Esteban Ocon and Haas begin negotiations

Jaden Diaz
20/05/2024

Esteban Ocon is emerging as an increasingly central player in the driver market. He is understood to have begun contract talks with Haas as he evaluates the different options for 2025. With his existing Alpine contract expiring this year, the Frenchman faces some big decisions.

Even before the season began, as whispers of Alpine’s poor development surfaced, Ocon hinted that he would explore the driver market. The Frenchman was quick to mention that his ties with Mercedes are still intact. The 27-year-old’s early posturing seems to have been an early indication of his broader intentions in F1’s “silly season”.

Haas is among several teams looking to finalise their 2025 driver lineup. Confirmation of Nico Hulkenberg’s departure validated reports that circulated at the beginning of 2024 and opened up at least one seat in Ayao Komatu’s team.

As it stands, Oliver Bearman is very likely to race under the Japanese team principal next year. The Ferrari junior was unlucky in last weekend’s Formula 2 race, stalling in the pits after initially leading the race. However, Bearman’s difficult F2 campaign is unlikely to change Haas and Ferrari’s belief in his abilities.

The more pressing question is who will race alongside the 19-year-old.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Saturday 18th May 2024. Imola, Italy.

OCON A THREAT TO MAGNUSSEN’S SEAT

Kevin Magnussen currently occupies a Haas seat, having spent over half a decade at the American outfit. Unfortunately for the Dane, there are a plethora of alternatives available to Haas. Therefore, what might have seemed a relatively secure seat twelve months ago is now in jeopardy.

Ocon is a hugely desirable option for Haas. He is a driver with great speed and plenty of experience. It would be relatively uncontroversial to say Ocon is slightly faster than Magnussen – and even less contentious to say that he is more consistent.

Assuming that Ayao Komatsu’s team shares this perspective, exploring whether Ocon is interested in a move is good practice. Thanks to the solid performance of the VF-24, the US squad has become a more desirable option. Their strong Ferrari links should help keep them competitive in the immediate future.

Speaking of their ties with Maranello, perhaps Haas’ potential to offer a pathway to the Italian outfit makes them a more attractive option than most would assume at face value. Of course, explaining the rationale for a move that hasn’t happened – and may not happen – is purely speculative.

However, it is worth considering the possibility of this partnership materialising. Numerous driver-team combinations could form in the coming months, and many of them could be surprises.

It isn’t for nothing that Alpine is giving Jack Doohan extensive F1 testing – or paying close attention to Mick Schumacher’s progress at WEC.

The Enstone-based team must prepare itself for the exit of at least one driver ahead of 2025. After all, Esteban Ocon is not without opportunities.

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