Esteban Ocon has admitted he is in talks with Williams to stay on the grid for 2019, and that it could be his only opportunity to remain in F1 in the short term.
The Mercedes driver, who is highly rated by Toto Wolff is expected to move to the World Champions in either 2020 or shortly afterwards, but is keen to keep his sights firmly on Formula 1 rather than move to another series, such as IndyCar or FormulaE.
Speaking ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Ocon said: “I am interested in F1, and that is the only thing I want to do. That is my only focus.”
“I feel like there is nothing for me to learn away from F1.”
He also dismissed talk of Williams Martini Racing being a backwards step from his current team Racing Point Force India:
“I cannot say it will be a downgrade. Williams is a great team, they have been world champion in the past and they have been fighting with us hard last year.”
“They have tough times, but all teams have tough times.”
Now, if it were me in charge of the Williams Team, and there was a young, talented driver who clearly recognises the team’s potential, and who is keen to drive for us, I’d snap him up in a heartbeat.
Obviously finances will dictate whether or not this is allowed to happen, but you could argue that with the team desperately seeking sponsors for 2019, having a young world class driver on their books is a more convincing statement of the team’s intent, and could return more on their investment than the instant cash injection than a Nikita Mazepin might bring.
Of course, we’re assuming that Lance Stroll is leaving the team in order to join his father’s team Racing Point Force India, which, although not confirmed is almost a certainty.