Esteban Ocon will always respect Fernando Alonso but felt that some of the recent criticism from the Spaniard was unwarranted.
For much of their two seasons together as Alpine team-mates, Alonso and Ocon had what appeared to be a very good relationship, Ocon at one stage rubbishing past stories of Alonso not always being the easiest of team-mates to work with.
But tensions appeared towards the end of their partnership, especially in Brazil, where Alonso was critical of his team-mate after their collision during the Sao Paulo sprint, for which Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi warned them anyone else in the company would have been let go for “gross misconduct”.
After the incident, Alonso suggested “it has been a little bit like this [with Ocon] all year long”, adding that “it’s one more race and it’s over, finally”, Alonso speaking in reference to his switch to Aston Martin. He would sarcastically refer to Ocon as “our friend” over team radio.
Alonso also referenced Ocon’s past skirmishes when team-mate to Sergio Perez at Force India and the infamous unlapping incident with Max Verstappen.
Speaking in Abu Dhabi, Ocon did admit to being disappointed to see some of this criticism.
“It’s no secret that I was disappointed in seeing his comments after the race,” said Ocon, as per the Formula 1 website. “There was no need for some [of the] criticism that he has done.
“But I respect him a lot. I will forever respect him for what he has done on the track over the years. He’s a legend of the sport and that won’t change – but I was a bit disappointed.”
The old Fernando Alonso made a late appearance
There is no doubt that Alonso has mellowed in the latter stages of his career, and during his time at Alpine he proved to be a vital asset, not only for his rapid speed and experience, but also for his contributions as a team player.
Hungary 2021 was without doubt the most obvious example, as Alonso’s dogged defence against Lewis Hamilton played a crucial role in Ocon going on to win in Formula 1 for the first time.
But as the frustrations mounted up towards the end of the 2022 campaign, Ocon started to see that more brutal side of Alonso. Most of it was likely not Ocon’s fault, the mounting reliability worries and knowledge that he would soon join Aston Martin were probably the main motivations behind this side of Alonso reawakening.
It is not the first time that Alonso’s relations have become tense with his team, so Aston Martin will be hoping that Alpine were the last example.