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2017 F1

Ocon visited Williams F1 factory

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Esteban Ocon’s chances of staying in formula one remain alive.

It emerged at Sochi that, between Singapore and Russia, the Frenchman visited Williams’ headquarters in Oxfordshire.

“I met Claire and Frank but there is nothing on the contract side,” the Force India driver, set to be replaced by Lance Stroll, told RTBF.

Ocon insisted moving to Williams would not be a “backwards step”, but it is likely that a seat with the British team would mean a place at the back of the grid.

“It’s always better to race,” he said. “When you stop for a year, coming back is not so simple, also for the body.”

But the 22-year-old said he would prefer to sit out 2019 if it means switching to another series, like Indycar.

“F1 is all I want to do. There is also the safety aspect. Robert (Wickens) is a driver who never makes mistakes, but he made one and it almost cost him his life,” said Ocon.

He also said he will not consider leaving Mercedes’ driver programme, and defended Lance Stroll amid criticism that a ‘pay driver’ has won the day for now.

“Lance is my best friend in the paddock and works as hard as I do to get a cockpit. The criticism of him is unfair,” said Ocon.

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