Ocon on Alonso battle: ‘Best defence is the attack’

Michelle Foster
Alpine drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon fight. Saudi Arabia March 2022

Alpine team-mates Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon fight for position through the corner. Saudi Arabia March 2022

With Formula 1’s all-new cars, one that can follow a lot more closely than yesteryear’s, Esteban Ocon says the “best defence is the attack”.

And that’s exactly what he did against his Alpine team-mate Fernando Alonso at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The Alpine team-mates engaged in a thrilling three-lap battle that eventually went the way of Alonso with Otmar Szafnaeur on the pit wall saying “we’ll let them race” before adding that they had to “keep Bottas behind”.

The team-mates were back at it again a few laps later, Alonso squeezing Ocon as he tried to pass around the outside.

And then came the message to Ocon: “Hold position, hold position”.

Alas he didn’t, but not in the manner in which Alpine expected, instead losing said position to Valtteri Bottas.

Speaking about his tussle with his double World Champion team-mate, Ocon told Canal+: “Honestly, it’s super tight now with the cars, we can follow each other very closely.

“And suddenly, the best defence is the attack, and there was Valtteri behind so it was important to keep the position in front.

“Afterwards the team told me to keep position. Basically we had to be… we could run if there weren’t too many things going on, if there was no contact. That’s what we did.

“It’s good, it pushes the performance of the team and it’s interesting. We have to continue like this.”

As the race progressed, Alonso retired having lost power with Ocon left to fly the flag for Alpine alone.

The Frenchman added an extra point to his and the team’s tally when he overtook Lando Norris pretty much on the line.

Ocon took P6 by 0.107s ahead of the McLaren driver.

It was a small moment of redemption for the driver as last year he lost third place on the line, overtaken by Bottas at the very end of the grand prix.

“I remembered last year, what had happened, it was exactly the same scenario, but here we are, this time we managed to keep the position,” Ocon said.

“But yes, it was hot at the end with Lando.”


Ocon’s points in Saudi Arabia mean Alpine are P4 in the Constructors’ Championship with 16 points, 21 behind Red Bull and four ahead of Haas.

It could have been a lot more had Alonso not retired.

“Two very good weeks, we’re scoring a lot of points on our side of the garage, and that’s great,” added Ocon.

“It would have been a very good result too if Fernando hadn’t had any problems. It’s very good for the team and we have to continue in this direction.”


Ocon says 'best defence is the attack' with new cars

Esteban Ocon claimed that with these new cars, the best form of defence is to actually attack.