Daniel Ricciardo believes the majority of the 2019 Formula 1 grid has been produced by talent rising to the top rather than ‘political and financial stuff’.

The 29-year-old triggered a wave of driver switches when he made the shock decision to leave Red Bull for Renault during the summer break. With the knock-on impact of Ricciardo’s move still being felt across the F1 grid, it appears Esteban Ocon could become the key driver to miss out as a result.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff confirmed Ocon had offers to be loaned to both Renault and McLaren for 2019 but with Ricciardo moving to the French manufacturer and Carlos Sainz Jr also cutting ties to switch to McLaren following Fernando Alonso’s exit both of the French driver’s options fell apart.

While the Laurence Stroll-led purchase of Force India is also playing a role in the key F1 driver moves, which is expected to see his son Lance Stroll move to the Silverstone-based squad, Ricciardo says he unintentionally and indirectly ‘screwed’ Ocon but feels the 2019 F1 grid will be largely decided by talent despite the French driver’s situation.

“I genuinely believe that pretty much the vast majority of the grid now is based around talent,” Ricciardo said. “I don’t think the sport’s in a bad place at all with that.

“I don’t know Ocon’s situation now. If he doesn’t have a drive next year, sure, he’s worthy of a drive, but I wouldn’t say he’s the first guy that’s missed it. It’s happened before that drivers with the talent have lost out.

Ricciardo also feels Ocon’s predicament is nothing new in F1 and is confident the situation will find a resolution which suits all parties eventually.

“If he [Ocon] didn’t have a seat, do I think that’s the end of his F1 career? No, I don’t think it is,” Ricciardo explained. “I feel it’s always gone on, and it’s unfortunate, but I don’t think it’s necessarily in a different place than it has been.

“With the Ocon situation, I didn’t do it to screw him, but obviously the effect of my move has put him in a bit of a position now.

“I think now we’ve got more younger drivers in the field than ever before. I feel old at 29 when there are kids well below their 20s in F1. I don’t think it’s harder, but it’s always been the case. It’s not always that clear that this guy is in because he’s currently the best guy in junior formulas and that’s why he’s in F1. There’s political stuff and there’s financial stuff as well that’s always involved.”

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