Renault F1 team explains why it didn't sign Esteban Ocon for 2019

Renault Sport Formula 1 boss Cyril Abiteboul says Esteban Ocon's ties to Mercedes worked against him when the team made its final call on drivers for 2019

Renault F1 team explains why it didn't sign Esteban Ocon for 2019

Ocon had been expected to be named as Nico Hulkenberg's team-mate, but that plan was abandoned at the last minute when Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo made himself available in the week after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Current Force India driver Ocon would have been loaned to Renault by Mercedes, in much the same way as Red Bull has loaned out Carlos Sainz Jr to the Enstone squad since last September.

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Abiteboul said the team had reservations over being beholden to a leading rival once more, especially another manufacturer.

"It was a difficult decision," Abiteboul told Autosport. "I think Esteban was a great fit.

"We've been extremely honest in our decision with people around Esteban - as always with these things the discussions are never with the driver - but in the present case it was a bit awkward because it was a competitor, Mercedes.

"That's something that was at the back of our minds, the fact that we still again had to discuss with a competitor regarding a driver.

"We were just coming out of that with Carlos, with a positive and a negative associated.

"I have to accept the fact that without discussing with Red Bull we would not have had Carlos this year, and I think it was great to have Carlos, so I think on balance we still did something good last year.

"But having to do that again - one more year or two more years, 2019 and '20 - in years we are supposed to, if we are to comply with our road map, start competing with top teams... Being dependent on that top team, a competitor, for a very important resource, felt a little bit awkward.

"It was not totally a deal breaker, otherwise we would not have considered Esteban in the first instance.

"But it was really something that was at the back of our minds."

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