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Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso's F1 futures: Will Renault hire one?

Renault's big decision for 2021 and the rest of F1's midfield assessed heading into the new F1 season on the latest Vodcast

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Martin Brundle, Ted Kravitz and Paul Di Resta join Rachel Brookes on the latest Vodcast to talk about a big change for Mercedes and assess F1's midfield ahead of the new season

Esteban Ocon now has a golden opportunity to show he can lead Renault into the future with Daniel Ricciardo departing for McLaren at the end of the year, according to the Sky F1 pundits.

After a year on the sidelines watching and learning in a reverse role at Mercedes, Ocon returns to a race seat for 2020 next to seven-time race winner Ricciardo.

But the six months ahead present the 23-year-old Ocon, whose deal runs to the end of 2021, with a chance to cement his status as their leading light of the future.

"I think he'll be brilliant," said Martin Brundle on the latest Sky F1 Vodcast.

"I think he's a great young racing driver and he has had a year out with the headphones on in the back of the Mercedes-Benz garage, he'll have learned a lot and matured.

"Is he a team leader, though?

"Ironically, Ricciardo-Ocon is a tremendous partnership and it's a shame for Renault that that's changing.

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"Will they take on Alonso or Vettel, if he's interested?

"Alonso's pretty hot to handle as a driver, are Renault ready for that? Or if another Charles Leclerc-style kid turns up on the scene, will they take a risk on that? I think it depends on if Ocon demonstrates he can lead that team."

Paul Di Resta agreed that the delayed 2020 campaign now represents an even bigger opportunity for Ocon than originally thought.

"This is where Ocon has got to grab it - he's got to grab it by the horns," said Di Resta.

"You could see there is a bit of fire between him and Perez [at Racing Point in 2017-18], he certainly wasn't scared to go against the team and push the rules to the very limit. But that's what great champions have got.

"If he can lead a team at the age he's at, having had that year out… don't forget, at the back of all that what Renault must be thinking as well is Mercedes can just pull him back after a few years, and obviously Toto (Wolff) is managing him.

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"I don't think Sebastian Vettel is probably the right fit for Renault. Fernando Alonso has been there, some people like it, some people don't, but if you need somebody with reputation and somebody is going to get momentum and show passion for driving, taking everything else out of it, he might be the right fit.

"Especially given that rules aren't going to change that quickly."

Alonso has spent two previous stints at Renault, winning his two world titles during his first in the mid-2000s, but has been off the F1 grid since the end of 2018.

However, Ted Kravitz insisted: "Cyril Abiteboul [Renault team principal] has a way of landing on his feet with drivers - he always seems to get some decent drivers!

"And, certainly, if Alonso is available I think you should grab him with both hands and not let him go. And pay him as much as they can and live with any of the consequences of him not being happy.

"If Alonso is up for it, it's a no brainer - you've got to get him on board."

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In his latest Notebook, Ted discusses all the big Formula 1 topics, including Andy Cowell leaving Mercedes, how different F1 will look once the season starts, Valtteri Bottas' comments, virtual racing and much more

Get set for F1's return live on Sky Sports

Seven months after the 2019 campaign concluded, Formula 1 finally gets back racing again from July 3-5 at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Eight summer races at six venues across Europe have been announced so far, with a further schedule stretching until December expected to be confirmed soon.

The confirmed 2020 F1 dates so far

July 5 Austrian GP - Spielberg
July 12 Steiermark GP - Spielberg
July 19 Hungarian GP - Budapest
August 2 British GP - Silverstone
August 9 70th Anniversary GP - Silverstone
August 16 Spanish GP - Barcelona
August 30 Belgian GP - Spa-Francorchamps
September 6 Italian GP - Monza

F1 is aiming for a season of between 15 and 18 races.

All races will be live on Sky Sports F1 - the only place to watch the whole season live.

The Formula 1 season will begin on July 3-5 live on Sky Sports F1 with the Austrian GP. The race is the first of eight in 10 weeks in Europe, with every race live on Sky Sports.

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