Red Bull wouldn't consider Ocon due to Mercedes link - Horner

Red Bull's Christian Horner has joined the chorus of team bosses saying Esteban Ocon's Mercedes connections have worked against him, and ruled him out of Toro Rosso Formula 1 contention

Red Bull wouldn't consider Ocon due to Mercedes link - Horner

Though Toro Rosso faces a lack of qualified young drivers in Red Bull's own junior programme, and now looks set to recall Daniil Kvyat for one of its 2019 seats, Horner said Ocon would not be considered while he is contracted to a main rival.

Both McLaren's Zak Brown and Renault's Cyril Abiteboul have expressed similar sentiments about Ocon, who will be without a drive when Lance Stroll joins Force India.

"For what is relatively little investment by Mercedes it's been to their merit that they've helped these guys to get into F1," Horner told Autosport.

"But now it seems to be almost an anchor being a Mercedes driver.

"Being on a recall mechanism isn't attractive to a vast majority of teams.

"The crazy situation is you've got a driver like Ocon who might end up without a seat next year.

"If he was to be contractually free he'd be an obvious candidate for Toro Rosso.

"But Red Bull aren't going to invest in a Mercedes driver, understandably. And I wouldn't expect the same to happen the other way round."

Horner said Mercedes could have solve the Ocon problem by promoting him to a race seat with the works team, pointing that Red Bull had taken the plunge with Sebastian Vettel (pictured below winning his first race for Red Bull in 2009), Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

"It's very easy to go with something known," said Horner.

"And there's far more perceived risk in taking an unknown quantity or a junior, and I think we've demonstrated on numerous occasions that it pays off.

"We've had a very successful junior programme, and Red Bull has a junior team, and has invested in that.

"It's paid dividends with Seb, Daniel and Max, and we'll see with Pierre Gasly. And it's given numerous others opportunities, such as Carlos Sainz."

Horner acknowledged that there is currently a "window" just below F1 in Red Bull's talent ladder, but he stressed that there are plenty of young drivers on the way up.

The leading Red Bull protege outside F1 at present is Formula 3 European Championship leader Dan Ticktum, but he will not have enough superlicence points to qualify for a grand prix seat in 2019.

"The marketplace goes in fits and starts," Horner added.

"We've got Dan Ticktum in F3 who's winning that championship, but these things are all cyclical.

"We're constantly looking at young talent and emerging talent, so I don't think that window will be open for too long.

"We're looking at the grassroots, investing in youth. We have two very good young junior drivers in karting at the moment, Harry Thompson and Jonny Edgar.

"You have to go to the grassroots to try and support young talent coming through."

shares
comments
McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne: Doubters judge F1 drivers too quickly

Previous article

McLaren's Stoffel Vandoorne: Doubters judge F1 drivers too quickly

Next article

George Russell turned down Force India F1 FP1 drive to focus on F2

George Russell turned down Force India F1 FP1 drive to focus on F2
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Esteban Ocon
Teams Red Bull Racing , Mercedes
Author Adam Cooper
How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean? Plus

How long can F1 2021's brewing title battle stay clean?

Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have been evenly matched so far in the 2021 Formula 1 title race. Neither has been afraid to get aggressive against each other on track, teeing up an enthralling contest as the year unwinds. But is their rivalry destined to end in broken shards of carbon fibre?

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight Plus

What the Spain result tells F1 about the next phase of the Mercedes/Red Bull title fight

OPINION: Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have recovered from their pre-season woes to take three wins from the opening four races of 2021. But each time Red Bull and Max Verstappen have pushed them hard. So, what clues did the latest round of that battle – the Spanish Grand Prix – tease about the next stage of the season?

Formula 1
May 12, 2021
How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner Plus

How Brabham’s one-hit wonder was boxed into a corner

The Brabham BT46B raced once, won once, then vanished – or did it? STUART CODLING reveals the story of the car which was never actually banned…

Formula 1
May 11, 2021
The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle Plus

The changes Barcelona needs to provide a modern-day F1 spectacle

Formula 1’s visits to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya over recent years have been met with familiar criticisms despite tweaks here and there to the track to improve racing. With the 2021 Spanish Grand Prix largely going the same way, proper solutions need to be followed to achieve F1’s wider targets

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Spanish Grand Prix Driver Ratings

Often described as Formula 1's laboratory, the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona gave the clearest demonstration yet of the pecking order in 2021. And it's the key discrepancies from that order which illuminate who is excelling, and who needs to hit the reset button

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain Plus

How Red Bull’s deja vu set Hamilton on the winning path in Spain

An aggressive first corner move from Max Verstappen appeared to have set the Red Bull driver on course for victory in the Spanish Grand Prix. But canny strategy from Mercedes - combined with the absence of Red Bull's number two from the lead group - allowed Lewis Hamilton to pull off a demoralising reversal

Formula 1
May 10, 2021
The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey Plus

The toe-in-water origins of Lotus’s groundbreaking F1 journey

In the first part of our history of Lotus, DAMIEN SMITH recalls how Formula 1 wasn’t an immediate priority for team founder Colin Chapman – but once he got a taste for it he just couldn’t stop…

Formula 1
May 9, 2021
How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher Plus

How Hamilton’s qualifying record compares to Senna and Schumacher

Lewis Hamilton has just become the first driver to record 100 world championship Formula 1 pole positions. Time to revisit a debate we discussed when he reached 150 front row starts in 2020.

Formula 1
May 8, 2021