Ricciardo didn't mean to 'screw' Ocon with 2019 Renault F1 move

Daniel Ricciardo has played down the wider significance of Esteban Ocon's struggle for a 2019 Formula 1 seat, but is aware his own Renault move accidentally "screwed" the Mercedes protege

Ricciardo didn't mean to 'screw' Ocon with 2019 Renault F1 move

Ocon was poised to switch to Renault before Ricciardo's decision to move from Red Bull closed that door.

Other teams have proved reluctant to take Ocon because of his Mercedes ties.

He is likely to be ousted from his current team Racing Point Force India because Sergio Perez has a deal for next season and Lance Stroll is poised to join from Williams because his father Lawrence is now an investor in the team.

Ricciardo acknowledged that his Renault move meant "indirectly I screwed him" but said it was part of what made Ocon's plight unique and not indicative a wider problem.

"The Ocon situation, I didn't do it to screw him," Ricciardo reiterated when asked by Autosport if it showed it is harder for young drivers to get to, and stay in, F1 .

"But the effect of my move has put him in a bit of a position now.

"I don't know, I wouldn't say the young driver thing because we have more younger drivers in the field than ever before.

"I feel old at 29. There's kids below their 20s in F1. I don't think it's harder.

"There's political stuff, there's financial stuff, that's always involved but I genuinely believe that pretty much the vast majority of the grid now is based around talent.

"I don't think the sport's in a bad place at all."

Other young drivers are getting chances: Formula 2 title contender Lando Norris will step up to F1 next season with McLaren, while 20-year-old Charles Leclerc has been promoted from Sauber to Ferrari in place of Kimi Raikkonen.

But Ocon has admitted his hopes of staying on the grid next season are fading.

"I don't know Ocon's situation," said Ricciardo. "If he doesn't have a drive next year, sure he's worthy of a drive.

"But I wouldn't say he's the first guy that's missed it. It's happened before that drivers with the talent have lost out.

"If he didn't have a seat, do I think that's the end of his F1 career? No I don't.

"I feel it's always gone on, and it's unfortunate. I don't think it's necessarily in a different place to what it has been."

Ocon has been the chief victim of a dramatic summer that included Ricciardo's Renault move and Force India's fall into administration then rescue via Stroll's consortium.

Ricciardo's team-mate Max Verstappen said it was simply a case that "the timing is wrong".

"The problem is that there are no seats available, and when you have Force India where it is difficult to stay at the moment and you are linked to Mercedes, then it is just hard," said Verstappen.

"I still see, maybe not next year, but the years after he will have a great career in F1."

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Daniel Ricciardo , Esteban Ocon
Teams Renault F1 Team
Author Jonathan Noble
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