Esteban Ocon escapes grid penalty after parc ferme fire damaged his Alpine

Michelle Foster
Esteban Ocon Alpine A522 on fire in parc ferme. Brazil November 2022

Esteban Ocon feared the”consequences” for Sunday’s race after his A522 caught fire while sitting in parc ferme following Saturday’s sprint race in Brazil.

But thankfully for him, there is no grid penalty come after the Alpine team changed his engine to another one already in his pool, meaning he keeps hold of his P17 position on the grid.

The Frenchman’s Saturday at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix weekend went from bad to worse in the moments after the race as he parked his car, began to walk, and then saw a car burning.

Initially he thought it was the Williams next to his car only to realise it was his.

It capped a disappointing sprint race for the driver and his Alpine team, Ocon and his team-mate Fernando Alonso tangling on two occasions.

Both cars were damaged with Alonso forced to pit for a new front wing, neither driver scoring on the evening.

“The sidepod is completely open,” Ocon said as per GPFans. “I don’t know how it didn’t fly.

“And the car was on fire as well, so I hope at the end that there was no more damage.

“I left [the car], I did a couple of steps and then I saw the car was on fire. I thought it was the Williams but it was mine.”

Formula 1’s regulations state that once a car is in parc ferme teams cannot make changes unless it is like for like parts otherwise the driver has to start from the pit lane. Alpine were able to do just that, replacing damaged parts like for like.

“The whole bodywork is quite damaged from what I saw,” Ocon said. “I don’t know what the consequences are going to be.”

Alpine say a suspected fuel leak was the cause with the team investigating the damage the fire caused.

A pit lane start wouldn’t be a huge knock for Ocon, the driver set to line up P17 anyway.

As for his clash with his team-mate, Alonso fuming at Ocon, the Frenchman called it “unfortunate”.

“I mean,” he said, “I guess the most difficult thing is what we’ve lost in this race, at the back.

“Unfortunately, this is costly for the team at the wrong moment.

“It is unfortunate what happened on Lap 1.

“I was trying to attack the McLarens, took my line into [Turn] 4 and Fernando came out of nowhere from the outside. So we touched and from there on, my race was pretty much over.

“We are going to need to be working together on Sunday to come back for the team, score some points – hopefully we can do that.”

Read more: Are the gloves now off between Fernando Alonso and Alpine?