Esteban Ocon prefers to talk about his 2024 contender rather than feed the flames of speculation over potential Mercedes move.
The big question for the foreseeable future is who is going to partner George Russell at Mercedes next season as Lewis Hamilton heads to Ferrari.
While Haas and Williams opted to merely reveal their liveries, even when teams take the trouble to reveal their cars – which will no doubt look entirely different come 29 February – the talk is all about 2025.
With “strong links” to Mercedes, it is understandable that Esteban Ocon is one of the names being touted for the Silver Arrows hot seat, though for now his focus is strictly Alpine.
“I’ve always had strong links with Mercedes. I’m still a Merc junior driver,” he said at the unveiling of the team’s 2024 contender. “This has always been, even if I’m not that junior anymore. I’m still contracted with them at some stage.
“So, it is how it is,” he added. “We will see. At the moment, I’m totally dedicated to Alpine. That’s my focus.
“I need to do a good job on track as always,” he continued, looking ahead to the forthcoming season. “Every year is a crucial year in F1 because it doesn’t matter if you have a contract or not. If you don’t perform, you can be out. That’s how it is. If you do a strong job there will be always talks, rumours and good things for you. As long as we talk about you, it means that what you do on track is good.”
Teammate, Pierre Gasly says he was aware of the Hamilton move before it was announced.
“I was aware of some talks with Ferrari,” said the Frenchman. “Ultimately he is towards the end of his career, so it was either now or never. I think it was kept secret for quite a long time. I wish him the best.”
Asked how he felt about Carlos Sainz essentially being dumped by the Maranello outfit, he said: “What’s fair in F1? Carlos is a great driver, Lewis is a fantastic driver, the best of all time.
“There was an opportunity on both sides. I think Ferrari and Lewis took it together. It leaves Carlos in a more tricky situation and it’s not easy.”
“The Lewis news surprised everyone for sure,” said Ocon. “Nobody was expecting something like that during the winter because it’s quite calm period normally, but it hasn’t seemed to be a calm period this winter.”
For now he prefers to focus on 2024, believing that despite the various upheavals over the last year Alpine will benefit now that things appear to have calmed down.
“It’s very good to have continuity,” he said. “You keep the work going, keep the little details going through, and ultimately, that’s very important because you have everything to learn if you work with a new team, with new people.
“If there is some fuzz at the other teams, we will take it, but we don’t want to focus on the other side. We need to be perfect on our side and then things will come.”