Theory debunked over timing of Esteban Ocon’s Alpine exit

Michelle Foster
Esteban Ocon speaks with the media

What's next for Esteban Ocon as he prepares to leave Alpine?

Esteban Ocon’s Alpine exit had “nothing” to do with what happened in Monaco, Sky F1’s Craig Slater insisting it was simply a case that the relationship had “come to a natural end”.

Ocon and Alpine announced on Monday that they’d “agreed together to part ways” at the end of this season, bringing their five-year relationship to a close.

Esteban Ocon’s Monaco troubles had ‘nothing’ to do with Alpine exit

While it was one that included the high of a first win for Ocon at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix, as well as a podium at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix and a third in Monaco last season, team-mate clashes with Fernando Alonso and more recently Pierre Gasly have also been a part of the story.

The most recent of those was in Monaco a week ago where Ocon made an ill-timed lunge on his team-mate on the opening lap into Portier with his A524 suffering significant damage and unable to take the restart.

Team boss Bruno Famin talked of consequences and, a week later, Alpine announced this season would be Ocon’s final year with the team.

But according to Slater, the one has nothing to do with the other.

“I’m told that it has nothing to do with that,” he told Sky Sports. “This would’ve happened anyway.

“It has maybe expedited the announcement that Ocon is to leave the team at the end of the season. People will already know that he will be driving for the team in Canada after some doubt being cast on that because of what happened in Monaco.

“The advice I’m being given is the relationship between him and the team has come to a natural end. He had been there for five years, which is a long time in Formula 1 terms.

“He won a race with the team back in Hungary 2021 but maybe the team aren’t at the point he expects them to be, and maybe the team needs a bit of freshness and new direction from another driver coming in.

“If you add that to maybe, he and Pierre Gasly on occasion rubbing up the wrong way, that’s the reason for his departure at the end of the year.”

What’s next for Esteban Ocon?

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Esteban Ocon to Mercedes is ‘not going to happen’

What’s next for Ocon is now one of 2025’s big questions as while he mentioned his Mercedes ties earlier this season, the Brackley squad is not likely to be an option with the team said to be leaning towards Kimi Antonelli.

That leaves Haas, Williams and Audi although all the latter two on that list are wanting Carlos Sainz as their first option.

As such Ocon may have to wait for Sainz before deciding his futrue.

“It’s difficult for Ocon,” says Slater. “He is managed, to a degree, by Toto Wolff who is the team boss at Mercedes. But if Wolff wanted to put him in that seat replacing Lewis Hamilton, that would already have happened. That’s not going to happen.

“I’ve been doing my rounds and finding, pretty much, that most of the doors seem closed to Esteban Ocon at the moment.

“Is there a slight chance he could be in contention for the Audi seat, that team is currently Sauber? There’s an offer on the table for Carlos Sainz but he is caught between taking that option or maybe going to Williams, which over the past couple of weeks has emerged as a serious contender for Sainz’s signature.

“Sainz is the most prominent driver out of contract so what he does will allow the other teams to make their decisions because it could bring the Audi or Williams seat into play. But I don’t think he [Ocon] is an option for Williams.

“Haas at the moment is Ocon’s likeliest chance to stay in F1. He’s one of a number of drivers in contention there.

“My understanding is Oliver Bearman will almost certainly be driving at Haas next year and that would leave the options for them as the likes of Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Ocon, and the incumbant Kevin Magnussen who has maybe a slim possibility of staying there as well.

“Haas at the moment is Ocon’s most likely chance to stay in F1. If it isn’t to be that, it’s almost certainly going to be the World Endurance Championship to carry on his driving career.”

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