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Hamilton replacement hunt takes shock twist

Hamilton replacement hunt takes shock twist

Hamilton replacement hunt takes shock twist

Hamilton replacement hunt takes shock twist

Esteban Ocon has admitted that he still has 'strong links' to Mercedes as the team try to reckon with the impending departure of Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton stunned the paddock at the start of the month with an announcement that he will depart for Ferrari after six world titles and more than a decade with Mercedes, moving at the end of the upcoming season.

The bombshell news now leaves the Silver Arrows with the difficult task of finding a suitable driver to fill the shoes of a seven-time world champion.

READ MORE: What the 2025 F1 grid looks like after MASSIVE Hamilton move

Although there will be plenty of drivers throwing their hat into the ring for the vacant seat, one has a connection that many others do not.

Lewis Hamilton (L) and Esteban Ocon (R)
Lewis Hamilton will be a Ferrari driver for the 2025 F1 season

Ocon who was part of the Mercedes academy setup prior to his arrival onto the F1 scene, is still managed by the Silver Arrows – something that he admitted is no secret.

Ocon: I have strong links with Mercedes

"I obviously still have strong links with Mercedes, I'm still a Mercedes junior driver, that is no secret to anyone," Ocon told Sky Sports. "But I'm totally dedicated to Alpine this year, I've got 24 races to get through and we'll see where we end up.

"Formula 1 is fierce, a lot of things can happen, as we can see, but I'm ready to take on the challenge."

"This has always been, even if I'm not that junior anymore, I'm still contracted with them at some stage," he added. "So, it is how it is. We will see."

It is set to be all change for the grid at the end of the 2024 season

"It's going to be a pretty crazy season on that side, for sure," Ocon continued. "Silly season has already started. For me it's important to focus on what I have to focus, and that is the track, that is the results, that is doing a good job on track.

"I've been part of this team for a long time, I know that if you do a good job, you'll always have opportunities and talks and rumours and all these things, but I'm going to be focused on what matters, and leave my manager and team to deal with that."

READ MORE: F1 Schedule 2024: Full calendar with all you need to know about every grand prix

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