Toto Wolff has decided to keep the Finn alongside Lewis Hamilton and so is Esteban Ocon who frees himself from the Mercedes contract to go perhaps to Renault. The announcement is expected before Spa, while George Russell is the pilot of the future of the three-pointed star.
Toto Wolff had confirmed it: “It will not be an easy decision”. Sometimes the situations in the driver market are intertwined in an unpredictable way, and for Mercedes it was not easy to decide who (between Esteban Ocon and Valtteri Bottas) will join Lewis Hamilton in 2020.
In the end Bottas won the day, accustomed to ‘hot’ summers in which his future is defined. For the third consecutive year Valtteri had to wait for half the season for the longed for confirmation, and once again the wait was rewarded.
The official announcement is missing, but by now the rumors are several, to the point of suggesting that the announcement will arrive soon.
The choice ‘Bottas’ obviously cannot be considered a surprise, but never like this summer the Finn (arrived in Mercedes in December 2016) was close to a forced farewell to the team.
The excellent results achieved by the ‘green line’ of Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren, which promoted the role of titular drivers of their respective ‘youth’ programs, made Toto Wolff and the Mercedes team board reflect on the possibility of aligning themselves to this trend.
The candidate for the promotion was Ocon, who this season is working closely with the team in the role of third driver, a contribution that the team particularly appreciated.
Stability cannot be touched
But to put Bottas in the door, who started the 2019 season very well before suffering a downturn in the last few races, would have been a choice with question marks, not so much aimed at Ocon’s performance, as for the quality of cohabitation between the Frenchman and Hamilton .
Over time, it has been understood how much this aspect is taken into consideration by Mercedes, traumatized by the period in which Lewis and Nico Rosberg have repeatedly embarrassed the team.
Having found the perfect balance with Bottas, it became hard for Wolff to decide voluntarily to go back to taking known risks, and so the line of that stability that in the last two seasons (and probably this year too) has assured the Mercedes the maximum possible loot of World titles, without internal tensions in the box. The rumors speak of an annual renewal (the third for Bottas) since in 2020 the market will put everything in question, in all the top-teams, with the exception of Charles Leclerc.
Ocon greets Mercedes (pointing to Russell)
With Bottas remaining in place, Ocon immediately moved to the market to be sure of being able to return to the track in 2020. The French have several opportunities on the table, but at the moment it is the Renault that is Esteban’s priority, now destined to conclude every relationship with Mercedes.
After the debut in Formula 1 in the second half of the 2016 World Championship with Manor, Ocon played two full seasons with Force India, before the mockery of twelve months ago when Ricciardo’s sudden arrival in Renault forced him to a sabbatical year in the role of third Mercedes driver.
If in three years the possibility of being promoted in the reference team has not materialized, it is understandable that Ocon wants to free itself to become more attractive for another team and to be able to sign multi-year contracts.
In the Mercedes nursery the new seeded becomes George Russell, destined to a second season in Williams in the hope that Wolff and his companions in twelve months can change line of thought.