Renault confirm Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo line up for 2020

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Esteban Ocon will join Renault next season after signing a two-year contract.

The 22-year-old Frenchman, who has spent this year on the sidelines after he was dropped by Racing Point, replaces Nico Hulkenberg and will team up with Daniel Ricciardo in 2020.

Ocon’s move to Renault was confirmed following Mercedes’ decision to retain Valtteri Bottas.

Ocon, the Mercedes reserve driver, had been in contention to race alongside Lewis Hamilton before Bottas was kept on for a fourth consecutive year.

“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.

“It is a responsibility I take very seriously. The confidence they have in me to help the progression of the team is a very positive pressure and I look forward to giving the best of myself.”

Ocon began his career with Manor and then raced at Force India for two years before he was replaced by Lance Stroll following his fashion billionaire’s father Lawrence’s takeover of the team.

Ocon, who has a best finish of fifth from his 50 race starts, had then been due to join Renault only for the move to fall through following Ricciardo’s surprise switch from Red Bull.

Renault have struggled this season, and are sixth in the constructors’ standings ahead of the final nine rounds.

Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul said: “Over his F1 career Esteban has experienced the highs and lows of the sport, and fully understood the need to seize every possible chance.

“Esteban has shown his ability to score points, has great professionalism on and off the track, plus his recent experience as reserve driver to the current world champions will be a valuable asset to the development of our entire team.”    

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Mercedes retain Valtteri Bottas alongside Lewis Hamilton for 2020

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Valtteri Bottas has been confirmed as Lewis Hamilton’s team-mate at Mercedes for next season ahead of this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix.

The Finn, who turned 30 on Wednesday, has seen off the team’s French reserve driver Esteban Ocon, and British rookie George Russell, to get the nod alongside Hamilton for 2020.

Team principal Toto Wolff has decided to take up the option on keeping Bottas for a fourth consecutive season.

Mathematically, Bottas is Hamilton’s closest challenger for a sixth world championship, having won twice this year.

But the former Williams driver is 62 points behind his team-mate with only nine rounds remaining. His second place in the championship is also under threat from Red Bull’s Max Verstappen following the Dutchman’s impressive campaign.

Bottas last tasted victory at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April, and failed to take advantage of Hamilton’s poor showing at last month’s rain-hit German Grand Prix when he crashed out.

He then finished a disappointing eighth at the last round before the summer break in Hungary following contact with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

The season resumes in Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday, with Hamilton looking to edge closer towards a sixth world championship which would move him to within one of Michael Schumacher’s record.

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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F1 announces record 22 race calendar in 2020

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Formula One has announced that there will be a record 22 races next year, making it the longest calendar in the sport’s history.

Vietnam makes its debut as the third instalment of the 2020 season in April, while Holland will stage its first race in more than three decades in May.

It has also been confirmed that the British Grand Prix has been pushed back by a week to avoid clashing with the Wimbledon men’s singles final and the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

The Silverstone race will take place on July 19, the same weekend as the Open at Royal St George’s.

There will be seven back-to-back races next term with Melbourne playing host to the season opener on March 15 and Bahrain to follow a week later.

The campaign will conclude in Abu Dhabi on November 29.

The German Grand Prix is the only absentee of this year’s fixtures, following deals to save the rounds at Silverstone and Barcelona.

The calendar is set to be formally approved at a World Motor Sport Council meeting on October 4.

F1 2020 CALENDAR

March 15 – Australia, Melbourne

March 22 – Bahrain, Sakhir

April 5 – Vietnam, Hanoi

April 19 – China, Shanghai

May 3 – Netherlands, Zandvoort

May 20 – Spain, Barcelona

May 24 – Monaco, Monaco

June 7 – Azerbaijan, Baku

June 14 – Canada, Montreal

June 28 – France, Le Castellet

July 5 – Austria, Spielberg

July 19 – Great Britain, Silverstone

August 2 – Hungary, Budapest

August 30 – Belgium, Spa

September 6 – Italy, Monza (subject to contract signature)

September 20 – Singapore, Singapore

September 27 – Russia, Sochi

October 11 – Japan, Suzuka

October 25 – United States, Austin

November 1 – Mexico City, Mexico City

November 15 – Brazil, Sao Paulo

November 29 – UAE, Abu Dhabi

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