McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown named four drivers in the team’s shortlist for the 2019 Formula 1 seat alongside Carlos Sainz as Esteban Ocon denied the rumours around a seat fit.
Ever since Lawrence Stroll bought Force India, speculations arose for Lance Stroll to move to the team as early as 2018 than the scheduled 2019 season. Should the move happen this year, it will require host of changes involving multiple teams.
The build-up to Italian GP had stories of Ocon already having a seat fit with McLaren which he reportedly failed due to his height. However, the Frenchman denied those rumours stating that he did not have any seat fitting at Woking with McLaren.
“It [Woking] is a nice town but I haven’t been there,” he said with a smile. “No, in the recent days I haven’t been there.” When asked that it was confirmed, he added: “No, [I] never said that. I saw the news like [everybody], but no [truth in it].”
At the same time, it has been said that Stroll also had his seat fit in Force India which the team says was more for 2019 than a mid-season switch. Statements are changing everyday in F1 with regards to driver market as nothing seems certain at the moment.
The biggest trouble is the binding contracts between the drivers and the teams which needs to be broken or agreed to mutually for any change to take place. The recent speculation is for the changes to happen beyond Singapore but nothing can be certain.
Looking at 2019 though, the second seat at McLaren remains open alongside Sainz. Even if Ocon said he did not have a seat fit but the Frenchman is one of the drivers being looked at as per Brown who confirmed four names in the team’s shortlist to Channel 4.
Naturally, Stoffel Vandoorne and Lando Norris are among the four but along with Ocon Brown added former McLaren driver Sergio Perez in the mix. The Mexican’s name was linked to the team by Sky Sports F1 and has now been confirmed by Brown as well.
Perez though is adamant that he knows what he is doing in the future and the announcement will come in the due course of time. Suggestions are towards him staying with Force India but things could still change with a shock return to McLaren.
Meanwhile, under pressure Vandoorne insists he has done everything he can but since the general performance of the car is lacking, there’s nothing more he can do. “I think I have proven a lot with all the junior championships I have won.
“Probably, [I am] one of the most successful junior drivers that is in the paddock [right now]. I think the situation we have had in the past couple of years at McLaren has definitely not been ideal with all the problems we have been running through.
“Even when compared to Fernando, I think I have been very close, not always in the ideal conditions. At the moment, out general performance is just not strong enough, so there’s nothing we can really do about that,” he said, while his future hangs in the balance.
Brown though noted the decision with regards to the second seat will be made available later in September. On the other hand, he also confirmed a private IndyCar test for Fernando Alonso for next week as the Spaniard decides upon his future.