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Ocon “totally dedicated” to Alpine despite Mercedes links

Rumours of who will replace Hamilton at Mercedes have already been circulating, and Ocon's connection to the team raises a question

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One of the most coveted seats in motorsport is up for grabs: could Esteban Ocon be the driver that secures it?

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Esteban Ocon speaks at the launch of Alpine’s 2024 challenger, the A524 (Image Credit: @AlpineF1Team on X)

Lewis Hamilton’s shock announcement that he would be moving on from his long-term relationship with Mercedes’ Formula 1 team after the 2024 season is creating a wave of speculation for the current driver market.

He’ll be driving for Ferrari in 2025, leaving Carlos Sainz without a seat and leaving an open spot at Mercedes. One of the most successful teams, both historically and currently, is about to choose a new driver to replace the seven-time world champion.

When you’re thinking about drivers who would make a good replacement at Mercedes, Ocon probably isn’t one of the first names that comes to mind. One Formula 1 race win to his name, a best-placed finish of eighth in the championship, typically a solid midfield contender, but not much more. Compared to some of the other names currently in the running (according to public opinion, anyway), Ocon doesn’t really stand out. In fact, standing out is something Ocon rarely does.

But Ocon has something that a lot of other drivers don’t: close connections with Mercedes. He was a member of the Mercedes junior programme back during his junior career, he was the team’s official reserve driver in 2019, and he has a close relationship with team principal Toto Wolff.

Ocon’s commitment to Alpine

Ocon’s contract with Alpine is set to expire at the end of 2024, and therefore wouldn’t pose an issue to a potential deal with Mercedes. It’s silly to suggest he would turn down that opportunity, should it become available to him. But as of now, while he has at least one more full season with Alpine ahead of him, Ocon remains “totally dedicated” to his current team.

“I’ve always had strong links with Mercedes. I’m still a Merc junior driver,” Ocon commented. “This has always been, 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.

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

It’s hard to imagine Ocon saying no to the Mercedes seat, should he be in that position come 2025. But will it be offered to him? Do his connections to the team hold enough sway for him to win out over other, perhaps more decorated candidates?

For Ocon, as well as everyone else, on-track performance for 2024 will likely be an important factor. So we’ll have to wait and see.

Feature Image Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

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