On this week’s podcast we were discussing the McLaren decision to part company with Stoffel Vandoorne. I mentioned that I thought Toro Rosso (STR) would do very well to hire him to replace Pierre Gasly who is moving to Red Bull for 2019. There were some reports that STR were looking to re-hire Daniil Kvyat but I believe Vandoorne would be a much better candidate.
Paul mentioned Esteban Ocon and there’s certainly no doubt that would be a great pick for STR, I felt his ties to Mercedes might be a concern and that Vandoorne had no manufacturer ties making him a better long-term candidate.
Today article at Autosport seems to drive the notion home as McLaren’s Zak Brown says Ocon’s ties to Mercedes made him a less viable candidate than Lando Norris.
“Esteban is someone that we rate extremely highly, and I think any time when a driver, you’re looking to something long-term, has ties to another manufacturer, that’s a tick in the wrong box.
“Hopefully Esteban will get a ride, or maybe stay where he is, because he certainly deserves to be in Formula 1.
“But manufacturers having a hold on these drivers is certainly something that is a negative when you are not with that certain manufacturer, and you want to have a five, or 10-year view on whether you can have the driver or not.”
It’s a double-edged sword in some cases. These young drivers who benefit from a young driver program whether through Mercedes, Ferrari or Renault are then tied to those companies as potential drivers. Loaning them to another team is certainly done in F1 but they could be pulled back and it makes long-term planning and investment in a driver more challenging.
On the other hand, without this manufacturer support, some of these drivers may never have had the chance to be in GP2 or F1 etc. In the end, Ocon should be driving in F1 and in my opinion, so should Vandoorne. As it is, perhaps Vandoorne’s lack of ties might help or will Ocon’s ties to Mercedes have more weight and find him a ride? It’s a tough situation to be a Mercedes-supported driver when Mercedes doesn’t have a seat for you.
Hat Tip: Autosport