Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer criticises Esteban Ocon. Alpine Formula 1 team boss Otmar Szafnauer has warned Esteban Ocon that he should show “better judgement” in future when fighting with a teammate on the track. The Frenchman had repeatedly attracted attention in the past due to controversial duels with the driver from the other side of the garage.
At Force India and its successor Racing Point, Ocon often clashed with team-mate Sergio Perez. Szafnauer was his team boss then too and put both drivers on a short leash at the time.
In 2022, there was increasing tension with Fernando Alonso after both fought hard in Saudi Arabia and most recently in Brazil. The two even collided with each other on the first lap of the Sao Paulo sprint race, prompting some critical remarks from Alonso.
“He probably needs to assess better when his teammates are next to him, because you don’t win on the first lap, teammate or not,” Szafnauer said of Ocon.
“And if you’re aggressive against a rival and you both retire, you both lose. If you’re aggressive against your teammate and both get eliminated, guess who loses? So it’s just a matter of weighing better and still being able to catch the other guy later.”
Team management admonished both drivers after Brazil, but Ocon no longer has to deal with Alonso internally. Instead, Pierre Gasly joins the team, with whom Ocon has not always been on the best of terms in the past. Will there be tension between the two again?
“If we need a reminder, I’ll be happy to remind him,” warns the team boss.
Hardly any mistakes under pressure
Apart from that, however, Szafnauer is very satisfied with Ocon’s performance. Statistically, the Frenchman, who finished ahead of teammate Alonso in the overall standings, drove his best season in Formula One, even if he did not even finish on the podium, unlike the two seasons before.
“He’s definitely matured,” praises the American.
“He has a better understanding. I think what I really like about Esteban is that he often doesn’t make a mistake under pressure. I saw it with him when he won against [Sebastian] Vettel,” he recalls of Ocon’s victory in Hungary in 2021.
At that time, by the way, Szafnauer was still responsible for the opposite side: “I was there, we had a faster car. And he didn’t make a mistake. He put his car in the right place and looked well in the mirrors to take the win,” he says.
But he was even more impressed with Ocon’s performance in Japan 2022, when he managed to keep Lewis Hamilton behind him in adverse conditions to finish fourth.
“So he has matured, he has got better in that respect. And he’s fast. Can he still improve? Yes, we will work on making him better in some areas.”