Esteban Ocon spending a year on the sidelines of Formula 1 will “definitely hurt him” says his former teammate Sergio Perez.
The Frenchman will spend 2019 as Mercedes’ reserve and development driver since he could not find a race seat in any of the F1 teams.
During the summer break, Ocon was all set to move to Renault when Daniel Ricciardo suddenly accepted an offer from the French team. Around the same time, Force India’s assets were purchased by Lawrence Stroll. And it was likely that his son Lance Stroll will and join the team from the 2019 season. So Ocon was left without a seat.
The French race driver could not get a seat at McLaren and Toro Rosso due to his Mercedes links.
When we asked Perez if the year out will have an impact on Ocon, he said: “Definitely. It definitely can hurt him more than it can benefit him.
“Formula 1 is evolving so much year by year. You never know what the future will hold.
“He is in a great position with Mercedes. He definitely deserves a seat in Formula 1, he is one of the best drivers in this sport.
“But I think a year out of this can change so much. Maybe he comes back and drives for Mercedes, but you never know what the future will hold.
“So, it is a risky move.”
Ocon and Perez raced side by side for two years at the Silverstone based outfit and their partnership was never a smooth sail. Force India enforced team orders after a serious clash between both the drivers at Belgium in 2017.
Having raced next to many top drivers like 2009 world champion Jenson Button and Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg, Perez believes Ocon needs more maturity.
“I rate quite highly all my teammates,” said Perez. “They are all different. But the one that I rate the most is Hulkenberg and I think Esteban is there, he is in that group.
“I think he is lacking some maturity still, but I think that will come with the time.”