Ocon to drive for Renault next season

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But he's always been a formidable competitor and respected team mate wherever he's been, and Renault boss Cyril Abiteboul emphasised that the decision to drop Hulkenberg had been made with regret.

The Frenchman has spent the year on the sidelines with Mercedes AMG Motorsport as the team's reserve driver.

Ocon is no longer one of those options, having signed a two-year deal with Renault, but with Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel and Ricciardo all coming back onto the driver market next year, the world champions will have plenty of options to chase if Hamilton is lured away.

"It's a pity that the journey with Renault will end after the season", said the 32-year-old German driver.

"I am pleased that a team with big ambitions has entrusted me with the opportunity to once again demonstrate my skills at the highest level of F1", said Ocon.

"First and foremost, I am very proud to become a Renault driver", said Ocon, formerly a test driver with the team.

Ocon is undoubtedly talented and deserves to be in F1, but his two years as Sergio Perez's teammate at Force India in 2017 and 2018 were inconclusive.

Nico Hulkenberg of Germany and Renault Sport F1 looks on in the Paddock during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 29, 2019 in Spa, Belgium.

Valtteri Bottas will stay at Mercedes for another year, the Formula One champions said on Thursday. The relieved Bottas signed the paperwork last weekend, and then celebrated in style.

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Ocon was seen as a potential future world champion at Mercedes, but Wolff needed to balance how the team handled an increased challenge from Ferrari and Red Bull and the dynamic Bottas has developed Hamilton. "Everything turned out good, I'm happy, the team is happy".

"There is always a good excuse to throw a party, but that's a good excuse, it was good, I enjoyed it".

LEWIS Hamilton suffered a heavy crash into the barriers during FP3 at the Belgian Grand Prix.

"I knew by then, everything was done by then, so it was actually nice to celebrate with the closest people".

Since joining as a sudden replacement for Nico Rosberg, who retired days after winning the 2016 title, Bottas has had mixed fortunes. "I was waiting first for Mercedes to decide, (when) still knowing other teams could be possible if for some reason we didn't continue".

"But it is a slightly different set-up from the set-up that we had with Carlos [Sainz Jr] previous year".

"The imminent end of his contract made this decision a hard one as Nico has been a pillar of this progress".

Renault have endured a hard season and are now sixth out of ten teams in the standings.

Hulkenberg wants to remain in F1 and could be an option for Haas, who are considering replacing Romain Grosjean.

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