Ocon 'will be driving at Mercedes in 2020' - report

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Esteban Ocon is 100 per cent returning to Formula 1 and will be doing so with Mercedes next year, according to the Express.

The Frenchman is spending 2019 as a reserve driver at the Brackley-based team, after losing his Racing Point seat to Lance Stroll and Daniel Ricciardo took his expected drive at Renault.

Rumours have recently linked Ocon back to the Enstone team, replacing Nico Hulkenberg, but ex-Lotus F1 boss Matthew Carter paints a different outlook.

“100 per cent I heard that he will be racing next year," the British newspaper reports him as telling the Missed Apex podcast.“I heard from sources that he will be driving at Mercedes next year.”

Of course, while likely just speculation, it proves the pressure remains on Valtteri Bottas to perform despite a better first half to this season.

Although Ocon wouldn't comment on whether he feels he deserves an F1 seat more than anyone on the current grid.

“I’m not in a position to judge anyone, though some drivers are doing a better job than others," he told Top Gear.

“At the moment [my team is] trying to find solutions, there are discussions ongoing with many different teams.

“At the moment it’s only talks and I’ve learned that until the contract is signed, the seat is never for sure," the 22-year-old admitted.

“But there will be opportunities, and we’ll have to work to see what'll be possible next year, but at the moment it’s going the right way.”

Recently Mercedes revealed they would be willing to cut ties with Ocon to ensure his return to the F1 grid in 2020, but the driver insists he won't simply agree to any team.

“I need to be back in F1 – we’ll see,” he said. “But it’s my target to be in a competitive car.”