Alonso and Ocon duo told to have ‘less competition’

Sam Cooper
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon look at a laptop. Melbourne, April 2022.

Fernando Alonso has revealed the Alpine drivers have been told to have less combative following an on-track battle in Saudi Arabia.

During the race in Jeddah, the battle between Alonso and his team-mate Ocon was a thrilling encounter as the two jostled for position. However, with a chasing Valtteri Bottas behind, it left the pair vulnerable for an overtake which the Finn almost managed to pull off.

At the time, Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer said he was happy to let his two drivers race but Alonso has now revealed that both he and Ocon were told to be less competitive in that regard.

Speaking to Channel 4, he said that while he and Ocon may have enjoyed it, his employers did not.

“For us it was fine, for our bosses it was a little too close,” the two-time World Champion said.

“We respect each other a lot, but it is true that Laurent [Rossi – Alpine CEO] and Otmar after the race they said ‘maybe that was too close and I know you both trust each other, but we would like to have less competition on track’.”

Despite this battle, Alonso and Ocon share one of the closest relationships of any of the drivers on the track with the former happy to play the role of teacher but also willing to learn from his younger team-mate.

 

Torquing Point: Fernando Alonso 9/10 - Spanish GP Driver Rating

Fernando Alonso's luck this year hasn't been ideal, but in his home Grand Prix, he excelled. Starting from the back, he fought his way through the field to finish in a respectable points position.

“Very impressive,” he said when asked about Ocon. “I think last year also we saw how fast he was, how talented he was.

“You know when you have a team-mate, you know, puts all the effort in the simulator, shares with me the results that they get there, you want someone like this in the team because you will move forward quickly.

“So I love working with him and hopefully we can help Alpine as much as we can.”

Alonso’s future past the 2022 season remains in doubt as he has yet to extend his contract which ends in November. The team are due to start contract negotiations in July but that is no certainty with the highly-rated Oscar Piastri waiting in the wings.

The Spaniard though says he wants to keep going as he still enjoys what he does, even 21 years on from his first race.

“I love racing, and even I stopped [for] two sabbatical years from Formula 1, I was racing every weekend in different series.

“I love racing, that’s probably the first priority, and the second is that I feel at my 100% now, I feel fit, I feel sharp, I feel motivated.

“It will feel wrong to be in my home watching television and not sitting here, because I feel that I can still do this.”

His time in the sport has meant he has witnessed first-hand a lot of change in the sport, no more so than in 2022, but he says he believes the cars are easier to drive and said that even a “17-year-old boy” can do it.

“Everything has changed, not only the cars also the way we approach racing, I think it’s much more professional now,” Alonso said.

“It’s just different, but in the heart of competition it’s still the same DNA, competing against the others.

“Then on the physical aspect, I think the cars are easier to drive, the cars are heavier, the cars are slower in race pace especially, and that I think has removed a lot of the G forces on the corners.

“I think it was a test for a driver, you had to be like a superhuman to drive a Formula 1 car, now a 17-year-old boy can drive a Formula 1 car because we have too many helps in the car.”