Ocon: Alpine “didn’t have to tell me what to do” in Alonso F1 battle


Ocon was eighth in the safety car queue, behind Sebastian Vettel and ahead of Alonso, who was running on fresher tyres.

Before the restart, Ocon was told not to focus on Alonso behind him and to “let him through cleanly”.

Engineer: “Fernando has the tire advantage on us. Let’s not focus on him. Let’s make sure we focus on beating Vettel in the end. Let’s make sure we let him through clean and tidy, please. If you can confirm that please too.”

okay: “Let me race, by the [right] I will do that as soon as the situation is more settled. We can now also lose everything at the restart.”

Engineer: “Esteban, I don’t want you fighting Fernando. Understood?’

okay: “I have to pass Vettel now. I’m not going to fight Fernando.”

Engineer: “That’s fine, you can pass Vettel, I don’t want you fighting Fernando. As long as that’s clear…”

The discussion sparked extra interest as it came a day after the pair collided twice on the first lap of the Interlagos sprint, ruining both races and earning Alonso a penalty.

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Ocon lines up Vettel on the restart as Tsunoda pulls out of the way

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

In the end, the restart went as Ocon had hoped, passing Vettel into the first corner and safely letting Alonso through later in the lap. The Spaniard finished fifth and Ocon eighth.

“I think it didn’t translate very well because people thought I didn’t want to pass Fernando,” Ocon said of the radio discussion.

“I said, ‘No, I’m not going to let him pass on the restart. I’m going to pass Seb. And once the situation is resolved, we’ll sort that out. I’m not going to fight. I’m going to let him go.’ And I did.

“I couldn’t have held on to them, he was very fast on the soft tyre. And of course there were points for the whole team to take.

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“So I knew I was in a situation and the team didn’t have to tell me what to do.”

Both drivers were heavily criticized by team boss Otmar Szafnauer after their sprint collision, but after the feature race Ocon was eager to continue, commenting: “I think the team is happy today. Today is today, last night is the last night.”

However, when asked by TBEN if he had sorted it out with Alonso, he said: “No, we haven’t spoken.”

Ocon denied that there was now some tension with Alonso.

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Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team, on the pit wall

Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1 Team, on the pit wall

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“No, I mean, it wasn’t too nice what he said to the media,” Ocon said.

“I always have a lot of respect for him. He is a legend and I will always respect him.

‘It doesn’t matter what he said to you. I’d rather we talk together.’

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When asked if Alonso’s impending departure had changed his view of him, Ocon joked: “It motivates me even more to beat him next year!”

Alpine’s 14-point win in Brazil was a huge help in their battle with McLaren for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, with Alpine now holding a 19-point lead.

Ocon added: “I’m super happy for the team. Overall I think 14 points is a game-changer for us at this stage, there’s only one race left. And we’re going into Abu Dhabi with a big To kiss.

“From where we were, the car was very fast. And yes, we’re lucky to have tried two different strategies. One worked a little better than the other, but we covered ourselves and we executed both perfectly.

“We can’t relax. Still, we’ll have to push like crazy on the last lap, but it’s clear that we’re leading by several points and that definitely gives us a bit of pressure.”