F1: Ocon expects ‘war’ as Mercedes rivals Hamilton and Bottas race for title
Red Bull boss Horner is ‘totally confident’ Verstappen will stay
Mercedes have enjoyed a perfect start to the 2019 Formula 1 season with two wins each for Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas.
Coming into the campaign as the reigning champions, the Silver Arrows have not only picked up four wins in succession but also four 1-2s. They are top of the constructors’ championship with 173 points while in the drivers’ standings Bottas leads with 87 points, one more than team-mate Hamilton.
One man who has watched on closely is Mercedes reserve driver Esteban Ocon. He believes that his team-mates’ battle for the 2019 title will go down to the wire.
Speaking to French broadcaster Canal+ Ocon said: “There is a very, very good atmosphere. I think that, of course, when you are a part of a team like this, which makes records every year and that performs as much, it motivates everyone. So, obviously, everything is going very well within the team.
“I’m sure that Lewis will not want to stay behind Valtteri. Valtteri will want to beat Lewis and Lewis will still want to beat Valtteri. So, I think it’s going to be the war until the end of the season.”
Hamilton: we must stay on our toes
The Mercedes duo may have dominated the opening four races but world champion Lewis Hamilton says it’s too early to say that the championship race is just between him and team-mate Valtteri Bottas.
Quoted by Planet F1 British driver Hamilton, a five-time world champion, said: “No, it’s far too early to say that one person is the title rival. Ferrari [in Azerbaijan] had good pace in practice and in qualifying. I think if both cars delivered as we delivered, and their drivers delivered as we delivered, I think it would have been a lot closer. But we still have to stay on our toes.”
Horner ‘totally confident’ Verstappen will stay
Max Verstappen has been linked with a future move to Mercedes but Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner is optimistic the 21-year-old will stay with the team.
Horner told Motorsport.com: “Max has a contract and it’s very clear what that position is. I’m totally confident that he’ll be here next year.”
This season so far Verstappen has enjoyed a third-place finish in Australia while in Bahrain, China and Azerbaijan he finished fourth. Also fourth in the drivers’ standings, Verstappen is 36 points behind championship leader Valtteri Bottas.
“We’re at race four and he’s 36 points behind,” said Horner. “There’s a long way to go in this championship and you just have to take things one race at a time.
“Three fourth positions in a row is getting a little it boring now and I think we want to be fighting for the podium again.”
F1 news headlines
What the media is writing about in the world of Formula 1.
- Can Bottas maintain edge in Mercedes battle in Spain? (Planet F1)
- Haas ‘cautiously optimistic’ ahead of ‘significant’ upgrade for Spain (Formula1.com)
- Analysis: what has gone wrong at Renault? (Formula1.com)
- Schumacher: F1 is my destiny (Sky Sports)
- Sainz hopes Ferrari close the gap on Mercedes (GP Fans)
- Kvyat: F1 needs to do away with Friday running (Motorsport.com)