Renault "very clear" Ocon deal is no Mercedes loan
Renault is clear that Esteban Ocon will not retain any contractual ties to the Mercedes Formula 1 team when he joins the French car manufacturer next year.
Ocon, who is a Mercedes reserve, has just signed a two-year deal to join Renault as Daniel Ricciardo’s teammate from 2020.
But while Ocon’s career will still be managed by Mercedes, Renault managing director Cyril Abiteboul says that the Frenchman will be fully under his control from next year.
“He is a Renault driver,” said Abiteboul ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. “That is very clear. Mercedes will have absolutely no right on him for the duration of his contract.
“The small difference is that his management company happen to be a racing team and that is Mercedes.
"But it is a slightly different set-up from the set-up that we had with Carlos [Sainz] last year. That was on a loan and not a contract with Red Bull, but he [Ocon] will be a fully-fledged Renault driver.”
While outgoing Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg suggested that Ocon’s nationality was a factor in him losing out in the fight for the second Renault seat, Abiteboul did not agree.
“On the nationality I would not put much down to that,” he explained. “It is a plus. It is a bonus, but it is not an element into the decision because saying it is related to the decision is saying we have a sort of change of factors or parameters when we evaluated Esteban.
“That would not be fair for Esteban, just as it would not be fair to Nico nor Renault’s management. It is a plus. But what matters is that he ended up in a good car also.”
Esteban Ocon, Renault F1 Team
Photo by: Renault F1
Renault advisor Alain Prost also explained that while the team was happy to have a French driver, it was not the determining factor in taking Ocon.
“To be clear, of course the fact that he is French is a plus, but it is not the determining criterion, otherwise it would not be very logical,” he told Canal Plus.
“There were discussions with Nico, someone we really appreciate, but he wanted a two-year contract, we wanted one year plus an option.
"Without going into detail, he is someone who has done an extraordinary job for the team, but of course after three years he realizes, and he is right, that we are not progressing very quickly on the chassis.
“I think we needed someone to look a little further into the long term, with freshness, enthusiasm. He has that of course, but things are going to happen a little bit, we’re going to have to change the team a little bit too, so it’s more to look to the future.
“Esteban, with his Mercedes experience, age and youth, will bring us some of the dynamism we need in the team today.”
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