Mercedes might have been the last team in Formula One to confirm their driver lineup for the 2021 season, but that hasnât stopped team principal, Toto Wolff from casting his eye into the future. The seven-time Constructorsâ Championships winner currently have both Sir Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas as their drivers for the 2021 season, but with both drivers’ contracts running out at the end of the season -Toto might not be wrong to cast his advances on the foreseeable future.
Mercedes returned to the Formula One track in 2010 after the company bought the Brawn GP team, following a 55-year hiatus from Motor racing as a team rather than an engine manufacturer. After a major rule shake-up in 2014, that saw Formula One cars switch to âHybrid enginesâ, Mercedes has been the team to beat. With all their Constructorsâ Championships coming post-2014, whilst also adding seven more Driversâ Championships to the previous two won back in 1954 & 1955. This time Mercedes team has also hired professional locksmiths responsible for car’s security systems and rectifying any faults. The team will also be joined by top-level technicians who will work on car`s performance improvents.
Winning is something Mercedes have become accustomed to, and the key to ensuring their dominance is getting the right drivers behind their all-impressive race cars. Hence, the need for them to consider all available options before deciding on their future driver lineup.
The Performances and Talent of Ocon
Unless you are a stranger to the sport of Formula One, the name Esteban Ocon should ring a bell. The talented Frenchman made his Formula One debut back in 2016 with the Manor Racing team after replacing Rio Haryanto, who was dropped for the second half of the season after his sponsors failed to meet their contractual obligations. Ocon partnered Pascal Wehrlein and earned a season-high 12th placed finish in the chaotic, rain-logged Brazilian Grand Prix.
Oconâs impressive half-season spell led to the Force India F1 team signing him for the 2017 season as part of a multi-year deal with the Mercedes Formula One team. He ended the 2017 season with 87 driver points and finished 8th place on the driversâ standings. Ocon continued as Sergio Perezâs partner in Force India but failed to hit the heights of 2017. As he could only muster a meager 49 championship points, whilst finishing 12th on the driversâ standings.
Ocon was replaced by Lance Stroll at Force India after his father Lawrence Stroll led a consortium of investors to purchase the Force India team following their slip into administration midway into the 2018 season. Mercedes picked up Ocon as their reserve driver for the 2019 season, but the 24-year-old failed to see any on-track action. In 2020, the Renault Formula One team signed Ocon to partner with Daniel Ricciardo, and he showed a lot of promise with the French team. Ocon could only boast of a 12th placed finish but secured his first F1 podium finish with the team -after a second-place finish in the Sakhir Grand Prix.
Ocon showed a lot of promise with the Renault F1 team and could have finished a lot higher if he had cut down on some of his mistakes. He has been partnered with two-time Formula One champion, Fernando Alonso for the 2021 season -and learning for the great Spaniard could steadfastly help Ocon improve as a race driver, whilst giving Toto Wolff more to think about in terms of the Mercedesâ plans going forward.
Availability of Ocon
Esteban Oconâs two-year deal with the now rebranded Alpine F1 Team (formerly known as Renault) puts in a strategic position to be in the shout for the Mercedes 2022 race seat. The focus might be to impress Alpine enough to get a new contract with the team, but casting an eye towards Brackley -where the Mercedes Formula One team is based- would not be a bad option for Ocon.
Mercedes currently look like they could have a pool of five options to consider for 2022 -if you add Max Verstappen and George Russell to the already competitive list of Sir Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, and Esteban Ocon. However, Toto Wolff is keeping all the cards close to his chest. The Mercedes team principal believes the contract situations regarding Ocon and Russell is something to keep an eye on, whilst reiterating that the team is fully behind Hamilton and Bottas for the 2021 season. Wolff insists the future of Mercedes in 2022 will only be evaluated in the middle of the 2021 season.
Future of Sir Lewis Hamilton
Sir Lewis Hamiltonâs one-year deal with Mercedes has led to speculation over his future in the sport, leaving the opportunity open for Ocon and other drivers who covet a seat in the Mercedes F1 race car. However, Toto Wolff has quelled such rumors, by saying both sides wanted flexibility for 2022, and negotiating a multi-year contract with Hamilton in a short period would have been difficult. Should Hamilton -who has seven driversâ championships to his name already- decide to call it quits, Ocon might fancy his chances against the likes of Valtteri Bottas and George Russell.