Esteban Ocon

Ocon’s contract with Alpine ends this season. He joined the Mercedes junior program in 2015 during his GP3 Series campaign and has a good relationship with Toto Wolff, the team’s boss. Because of this, he’s considered a possible replacement for Hamilton.

Ocon addressed the speculation for the first time, saying he’s always had strong ties to Mercedes. However, he emphasized that he’s fully committed to Alpine.

During the launch of the Alpine A524 at Enstone on Wednesday, Ocon said, “I’ve always had strong links with Mercedes. I’m still a Merc junior driver.”

Ocon added, “Even if I’m not that junior anymore,. I’m still contracted with them at some stage. So, it is how it is. We will see. At the moment, I’m totally dedicated to Alpine. That’s my focus.”

“I need to do a good job on track as always. Every year is a crucial year in F1 because it doesn’t matter if you have a contract or not. If you don’t perform, you can be out. That’s how it is,” he further added.

“If you do a strong job, there will always be talks, rumors, and good things for you. As long as we talk about you, it means that what you do on track is good.”

Ocon mentioned that Hamilton’s move to Ferrari caught everyone by surprise, stating, “Nobody was expecting something like that during the winter.”

However, his teammate Pierre Gasly, whose contract also expires at the end of this year, claimed he knew about Hamilton’s discussions with Ferrari and that the news had been kept under wraps for a while.

Gasly further added, “Obviously he’s been a long time with Mercedes, but I was aware of some talks with Ferrari. Ultimately, he’s nearing the end of his career. So, it was either now or never.”

“I just wish him the best. Obviously, it’s sort of exciting… I think ultimately, for the sport, he is the most successful driver of all time, joining a new project and a new challenge. I’m sure everybody will follow that very closely,” Gasly added.

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“I think there was an opportunity on both sides. And I think Ferrari and Lewis took it together. Obviously, it leaves Carlos [Sainz, whom Hamilton will replace] in a more tricky situation. It’s not easy.”

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