Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes that, even though Esteban Ocon is a talented driver, Red Bull will ultimately not take him on for their junior team, Toro Rosso, as it would not make sense for them to nurture what is effectively a Mercedes driver.
With Esteban Ocon currently without a confirmed seat for the 2019 Formula One season, options are running out. Toro Rosso are still looking towards their line-up for next year, but Horner has confirmed that they will not approach the Frenchman.
“For what is relatively little investment by Mercedes it’s been to their merit that they’ve helped these guys to get into F1,” Horner told Motorsport.com.
“But now it seems to be almost an anchor being a Mercedes driver. Being on a recall mechanism isn’t attractive to a vast majority of teams.
“The crazy situation is you’ve got a driver like Ocon who might end up without a seat next year. If he was to be contractually free he’d be an obvious candidate for Toro Rosso.
"But Red Bull aren’t going to invest in a Mercedes driver, understandably. And I wouldn’t expect the same to happen the other way round.”
Mercedes are facing the prospect of having their junior driver not performing in 2019, but Horner reckons that the Silver Arrows should perhaps have promoted him already if they had a desire to keep him for the future.
“It’s very easy to go with something known," Horner continued.
"And there’s far more perceived risk in taking an unknown quantity or a junior, and I think we’ve demonstrated on numerous occasions that it pays off.
“We’ve had a very successful junior programme, and Red Bull has a junior team, and has invested in that. It’s paid dividends with Seb, Daniel and Max, and we’ll see with Pierre Gasly [who replaces Ricciardo in 2019].