Lehto: I doubt Ocon will replace Bottas at Mercedes

Former F1 driver JJ Lehto thinks Valtteri Bottas could keep his race seat at Mercedes, contradicting reports that former Lotus boss Matthew Carter said he has heard from “sources” that Mercedes reserve Esteban Ocon will replace Bottas for 2020.

Carter said during a Missed Apex podcast, “Esteban 100 per cent was supposed to go to Renault. 100 percent I heard that he will be racing next year. I heard from sources that he will be driving at Mercedes next year.”

But Lehto told Iltalehti newspaper: “Valtteri has done such a good job that I see the possibilities of that [Ocon replacing him] as very small.

“Also, Toto Wolff’s recent comments have not convinced me that Ocon has a strong chance at Mercedes. I see it as more likely that he will go to another team.”

Lehto believes that if Bottas can maintain his current pace, he will be given another contract extension for 2020, “Mercedes is definitely thinking about last year, when Bottas was really good until a collapse came after the signing of the extension. Then, everyone wondered why it was extended so early.

“This year, Valtteri has shown really good momentum all the time. He has been able to challenge Hamilton and if that continues, there is no reason why he would not get a new contract,” added Lehto.

On Friday, Bottas had the better of teammate Lewis Hamilton as the Finn ended the first day at Silverstone fastest of all, but the tendency on Saturdays and Sundays is for the five-time F1 World Champion to raise his game a notch and leave the #77 car in his wake.

Wolff: Very optimistic Ocon will be in a F1 car next year