Wednesday 16 January at 08:35 :
Jan.16 (GMM) His links to Mercedes are both a blessing and a curse for Esteban Ocon.
That is the claim of 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve, referring to Frenchman Ocon whose F1 race career has been halted.
Ocon has been replaced at Force India by Lance Stroll, the son of the team's new billionaire owner.
Ocon, 22, continues to be supported by Mercedes. When it became clear he would not have a seat for 2019, Toto Wolff hit out at the "politics" and "lies" at other teams.
But Villeneuve said it is the Mercedes link that ultimately hurt Ocon.
"Esteban Ocon is in F1 thanks to Mercedes," he told RMC. "At the same time, it was the fact of being with Mercedes that blocked him from going elsewhere.
"He has already been fortunate enough to be in formula one for a few years without having brought in the budget himself, which is amazing.
"He should be proud of it rather than it being a negative," Villeneuve added.
Villeneuve, 47, was speaking as he launched a funding programme for young racing drivers.
"I have the impression today that the financial contribution is more important than talent," he told Le Journal de Montreal.
"I've been in the paddocks for a number of years now and I see how it's going and I've really taken notice, perhaps because I have kids too.
"Often, parents come to me and ask 'What should I do to help my son?' and my first response now is 'Tell him to do something else'.
"It's an awful answer but I'm not able to lie," Villeneuve added.