Esteban Ocon laughs off ‘punishment’ suggestion ahead of Jack Doohan’s Canadian GP run

Michelle Foster
A close-up shot of Esteban Ocon speaking to the media at the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

Esteban Ocon will leave Alpine at the end of 2024

Handing his A524 over to Jack Doohan for FP1 in Canada, Esteban Ocon has laughed off suggestions that it is “punishment” for his Monaco transgressions.

Ocon created headlines for all the wrong reasons in Monte Carlo when he collided with his team-mate Pierre Gasly on the opening lap despite being told repeatedly, according to widespread reports, to “support” the driver ahead.

Esteban Ocon: It’s not the case at all

Lifted into the air when he touched his team-mate’s wheel, Ocon came down hard, so hard he wasn’t able to take the restart.

The incident led to claims the Frenchman could find himself benched for the Canadian Grand Prix but that was denied by Ocon, who called it “misinformed statements”.

Days later, though, Alpine did announce he’d sit out the opening practice session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve so that reserve driver Jack Doohan could tick off one of the team’s two rookie FP1 slots.

Ocon was quick to quash speculation that it was “punishment” for his Monaco antics.

Asked about that, he told the media in Montreal: “I’ve seen that a lot from the media, and it’s not the case at all.

“As a team we have to give two FP1s for rookies. And I’m giving mine to Jack here.

“It’s a track that’s going to be green to start with, with the new tarmac, and it’s quite dirty at the moment. So, things need to be cleaned up a little bit.

“I got a five grid place penalty as well, unfortunately for the race. So, my qualifying is a lot less dependent than usual, it’s more the race trim.

“And, from a team point of view, we think we are going to have probably a more competitive car later in the year.

“So, for us, you know, to do that [run Doohan] early is a good thing, instead of doing it in Mexico, Abu Dhabi, like we usually do.”

What’s next for Esteban Ocon?

👉The good, the bad and the ugly: 10 career-defining Esteban Ocon moments in F1

👉What’s next for Esteban Ocon? Four potential F1 seats in order of likelihood

This weekend’s race marks Ocon’s final Canadian Grand Prix with Alpine having announced after Monaco that this season will be his last with the team.

But like the Doohan speculation, that too has no link to Monaco – it’s just timing.

“We’ve been talking with the team for several months,” he said, “Alpine is a big group, Renault is a big group, and it’s the kind of team that is not taking decisions on just a single race.

“We’ve been talking. We’ve agreed mutually to come to an end, basically, at the end of the contract.

“I’ve spent five years inside this team. We had some amazing moments and [tougher] ones, but five years in terms of Formula 1 world is a long time. Definitely.

“And, yeah, I’m excited for the challenge ahead and excited to finish the collaboration on a high.”

As for what comes next, he said: “I have nothing to announce yet. As I said I will announce my future when the right time comes.

“At the moment I’m just focused on what’s going to be happening his weekend and what’s going to be in the next coming races. I think it’s good to be doing some racing, which is the most important thing and what I’m excited about.”

The former Mercedes junior driver, who is still managed by Toto Wolff, has been linked to Haas and Audi. Doohan is the favourite to replace Ocon.

Read next: Carlos Sainz slams Williams speculation after imminent announcement claim