Ocon still sees future at Mercedes after coming 'very close' to 2020 seat

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Esteban Ocon still sees a future opportunity to race at Mercedes despite missing out on a seat for 2020.

After losing his place on the Formula 1 grid to Lance Stroll last year, the Frenchman spent the season as reserve driver with the German manufacturer with whom he was affiliated.

Just before the summer break, speculation began to rise that Ocon was being lined up to replace Valtteri Bottas, as the Finn suffered two difficult races in Germany and Hungary.

But ultimately, Mercedes decided to play it safe by retaining the same line-up for another year at least.

“It was,” Ocon told ESPN on if a 2020 was a genuine possibility. “[I was] very close, and until the last moment there were discussions, but that’s done now and I have to look ahead and what I have in front of me."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has since suggested there was too much risk in promoting Ocon alongside Lewis Hamilton for this season.

“I don’t think I am going to go into details," the 23-year-old added. "Maybe if you ask Toto I think it was only him taking the decision, but I think he can explain it better.

“He explained it to me also, but his main reason is that of course I am still young and I have time.”

After missing out on Mercedes, the former Force India driver will instead return to F1 at Renault for 2020.

At the time of the deal, Wolff commented there was no possibility of the Brackley-based team calling back Ocon before his two-year contract expired, but Esteban does still think a return can happen. 

“I’m still managed by Mercedes, which is different from the actual team," he revealed.

“But the future is long in Formula 1 and I’m sure we will see each other again. We are not that far away from each other [in the paddock] anyway!”