Mercedes set deadline for Bottas/Ocon 2020 decision

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Mercedes has confirmed their timetable to decide whether Valtteri Bottas or Esteban Ocon will race for them in 2020.

The Finn started this season under pressure after a winless 2018, but responded perfectly with two wins in the first four races.

With the lurking presence of Ocon in the garage, however, Bottas hasn't won since Baku and has struggled to match Lewis Hamilton for race pace, leading to questions as to whether he has again opened the door for the Frenchman to step up.

"We want to end up, before the summer shutdown, in a good place with two solid performances at Hockenheim and Budapest and then spend some time thinking about the driver line-up for 2020 and beyond," Mercedes boss Toto Wolff told

"I guess it is pretty unusual to announce drivers in July anyway. If you take all the time you can to properly assess the drivers then you can drag it into the winter as some other teams have. It was the standard in the past.

"For us, it is not only about making the right decision next year but looking ahead," he noted. "That is why we agreed to take the decision in August going forward but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will announce it in August."

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While it may seem clear that Mercedes remains Bottas' prefered seat for 2020, Wolff also revealed he has options elsewhere, with the Finn recently not ruling out a possible move to Ferrari.

“It’s not a decision on Valtteri but it’s also a decision Valtteri needs to take,” he stated.

“One must not forget that he’s performing strong and there’s interest in the market for him also, so it’s for all of us to come together for a good solution and looking ahead also, it’s not only for 2020.”

And by taking that longer-term view, that potentially puts Ocon in a stronger position to replace Bottas, particularly if Mercedes struggle to find a guaranteed seat elsewhere for next season.

"As we all know it was an unfortunate situation last year that Esteban fell between the chairs, he could have chosen between two seats but in the end, nothing came out so from our perspective everybody knows about his driving capabilities," Wolff said.

"For Mercedes, Valtteri is showing some very strong performances that merit the seat but equally Esteban has shown in the past and is a great addition to the team.

“We have to make a decision for ourselves, as well as one that works out well for Esteban. If we choose Valtteri, then someone should train him [Ocon] further.

“That causes us to lose him for a year or two, but those are the consequences of such a decision.”