Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly hold clear-the-air talks after Australian GP collision

Jamie Woodhouse
A crane removes the broken Alpine cars of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. Australia, April 2023.

A crane removes the broken Alpine cars after Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon crashed. Australia, April 2023.

Esteban Ocon says Alpine team-mate Pierre Gasly apologised to him after their heavy collision that took them both out of the Australian Grand Prix.

Formula 1’s visit to Albert Park for the 2023 Australian GP proved to be a chaotic affair, the height of that arriving at the second race restart where multiple cars were involved in collisions at the opening corners.

That sadly included both Alpines, as out of Turn 2 Gasly moved across and collided with Ocon, sending them both into the wall with a hefty whack to bring about a highly disappointing end to the race for the team.

Asked how he was feeling by Sky F1 after that incident, Ocon said: “I’m feeling okay, little bit of a headache I have to say, it’s been a hard hit but I will be okay. I will survive.”

The first Safety Car of the day came on the opening lap when Charles Leclerc ended up in the gravel, that prompting a flurry of pit stops, Ocon included.

However, that smart decision became a nightmare when a few laps later the red flags were waved when Alex Albon crashed out, meaning any potential advantage for those who stopped had turned into a major loss of track position.

A huge frustration for Ocon then who had started the race from P11, but felt as high as P4 had become possible.

“Tricky weekend, I think nothing really clicked on our direction the whole weekend, the things that were out of our control really,” Ocon continued.

“And it’s extremely frustrating because we are in a good place, I think we’re similar to the Aston [Martins] and the Ferrari in front, so we could have been much further up.

“But yeah, we were just racing on our own, passing some cars, we were doing a good race from where we were, but that red flag just killed our strategy, we were going to be fourth or fifth probably without the red flag, but that killed it completely.”

And then the collision with Gasly was the rather bitter cherry on a terrible cake for Ocon and Alpine, Ocon confirming that Gasly had come to apologise to him post-race as the pair put this incident behind them.

“And obviously the chaotic restart, it could have been anyone that I collided with to be honest,” Ocon admitted.

“Because there were a lot of cars going off and obviously it ended up being Pierre not leaving me much space, but no hard feelings, he came and apologised and as I said, it could have been anyone.”

It was then put to Ocon that some drivers had pinned the restart chaos on low tyre temperatures, which he did not necessarily buy as an excuse.

On the suggestion that it was too hard to get heat into the tyres at the restart, Ocon replied: “Yeah, it is, and we’ve been doing in qualifying prep laps and things to warm up the tyres and obviously we couldn’t there, it was only the first start.

“But I don’t think that was the reason why so many people went off, people pushed to get results and took risks and obviously paid for some, didn’t pay for others.”

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As for Gasly, who had been largely keeping pace with Carlos Sainz and P3-finisher Fernando Alonso ahead, he could not hide his disappointment.

“For now I’m just extremely disappointed with the outcome of the race, because I gave everything out there,” he told Sky F1.

“I was racing with the Ferrari, Alonso in my cycle the majority of the race with three laps to go and we didn’t expect to be in such a position.

“So running in P5 on pace was definitely a nice surprise out there. I just can’t believe what’s happened in the end.”

Still, Gasly can take positives from the weekend having seen Alpine’s race pace was surprisingly very competitive, which he says will motivate the team for the coming races.

“Yeah, I mean I was pretty much in the gearbox of Carlos for many laps, I was catching Fernando,” said Gasly when asked if there are positives to take away. “And some laps I think at the end they picked up a bit more pace.

“But all in all, I don’t feel like we’ve missed much to be fighting with them properly. And we were about 30 laps, had Fernando in my sight and I was kind of hoping that maybe we can pick up a bit of pace towards the end.

“I mean it came a bit unexpected, but I felt comfortable in the car and it’s clearly giving some good directions for the future with the team on what we need and just giving some extra motivation for the coming races that we have got the pace to be fighting out there.”

A double points finish for McLaren has seen Alpine slip to P6 in the early Constructors’ standings, with a break of almost a month now ahead before Formula 1 returns for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.