Ocon is out of contract at Alpine on the finish of this season. He was signed by the Mercedes junior programme throughout his 2015 title-winning GP3 Sequence marketing campaign and given his relationship with the staff’s boss Toto Wolff, he’s seen as a candidate to exchange Hamilton.
Addressing the hypothesis for the primary time, Ocon mentioned he had at all times maintained “sturdy hyperlinks” to Mercedes however burdened that he stays “completely devoted” to his present employer, Alpine.
Talking throughout Wednesday’s launch of the Alpine A524 at Enstone, Ocon mentioned: “I’ve at all times had sturdy hyperlinks with Mercedes. I am nonetheless a Merc junior driver.
“This has at all times been, even when I am not that junior anymore. I am nonetheless contracted with them at some stage. So, it’s how it’s. We’ll see.
“In the intervening time, I am completely devoted to Alpine. That is my focus.
“I must do an excellent job on monitor as at all times. Yearly is an important yr in F1 as a result of it does not matter in case you have a contract or not. When you do not carry out, you may be out. That is how it’s.
“When you do a robust job there can be at all times talks, rumours and good issues for you. So long as we discuss you, it implies that what you do on monitor is sweet.”
Esteban Ocon, Alpine
Picture by: Alpine
Ocon reckoned that Hamilton’s Ferrari swap had “shocked everybody” and that “no person was anticipating one thing like that in the course of the winter”.
Nonetheless, his team-mate Pierre Gasly – whose present deal additionally runs out on the finish of this yr – reckoned he was conscious of Hamilton’s talks with Ferrari and that the information had been stored secret for a while.
Gasly commented: “Clearly he is been a very long time with Mercedes, however I used to be conscious of some talks with Ferrari.
“Finally, he is in direction of the tip of his profession. So, it was both now or by no means.
“I believe it was stored secret for fairly a very long time.
“I simply want him the very best. Clearly, it is type of thrilling… I believe in the end for the game, he’s essentially the most profitable driver of all time becoming a member of a brand new undertaking, a brand new problem. I am certain all people will observe that very carefully.
He added: “I believe there was a chance on either side. And I believe Ferrari and Lewis took it collectively. Clearly, it leaves Carlos [Sainz, who Hamilton will replace] in a extra difficult state of affairs. It is not straightforward.”
Further reporting by Jonathan Noble