Explained: Why Alpine did not instruct Ocon and Gasly to switch back positions in Canada

Jamie Woodhouse
Pierre Gasly follows Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon at the 2024 Canadian Grand Prix.

Pierre Gasly follows Alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon.

With the switcheroo not going to plan for Alpine in Canada, the team explained that Esteban Ocon – much to his frustration – was not allowed to re-pass Pierre Gasly because of a marauding Nico Hulkenberg.

In the closing stages of the Canadian Grand Prix, Alpine asked Ocon to yield to team-mate Gasly, to allow him a chance at challenging the RB of Daniel Ricciardo ahead in P8.

Nico Hulkenberg meant Alpine could not reverse driver switch

That request was initially met with a “forget it” from Ocon, who would oblige by the penultimate lap, Gasly unable from there to take P8 from Ricciardo.

Three points for Alpine marked their best score of the season, Gasly crossing the line P9 and Ocon P10, though after the race Ocon expressed his frustration over that order of the Alpine cars, claiming that he did his part as a team player, but the team did not do theirs in deciding against reversing the positions.

“I think today I’ve done my part of the job, but I don’t think the team did their part of the job,” Ocon told media following the race.

“I’ve been a team player and I’ve always respected the instructions that I’ve been given, always – it’s always been the case and I showed it once more today.

“But the nice guy doesn’t always pay off in Formula 1 and that is bothering me a lot.”

However, Alpine has since clarified that the presence of Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg – who was lurking close in search of stealing that point for P10 – meant there was no opening to swap their drivers’ positions back.

The team also revealed that Ocon was nursing a suspected power unit issue, which contributed to their request to let Gasly through.

An Alpine spokesperson said: “Early into Lap 68, Esteban was instructed to let Pierre by in order to give Pierre [a] chance to attack Ricciardo for P8.

“The reason being Esteban was losing performance with the suspected PU issue and the team had confidence for Pierre to attack Ricciardo with DRS (and Ricciardo without DRS).

“Esteban then let Pierre by halfway into Lap 69 at Turn 8. By this time [it] was too late, Ricciardo escaped too far ahead for Pierre to put pressure on and with Hulkenberg threatening behind, it was too risky to swap back positions.

“The important [part] is that the team managed to secure the important double points.”

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Speaking as a pundit for Sky F1, 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve questioned Ocon’s stance that he was putting the team first, suggesting Ocon only let Gasly by once he knew it was too late for his team-mate to pass Ricciardo.

“That wasn’t good, because we heard him in his comments, ‘I was a team player, I let him by, the team was wrong’ and so on, but he made sure that he waited long enough that it was too late for Gasly to go and attack,” said Villeneuve.

“But he still let him by to say, ‘I was a team player’. So there’s a lot of thought process going in there.”

Ocon will depart Alpine at the end of the F1 2024 campaign.

Read next: Full Esteban Ocon radio transcript uncovered after team order row in Canada