Fernando Alonso has explained his angry team radio message about his team-mate Esteban Ocon’s defensive driving at the start of the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The Alpine duo are usually one of the friendlier partnerships on the grid, and it had been bearhugs all round 12 months earlier at the Hungaroring when Ocon emerged triumphant – helped by some superb defending by Alonso against Lewis Hamilton.
But the boot was very much on the other foot this time after they had launched from fifth and sixth positions, with Ocon just ahead of his soon-to-be-former colleague.
Heading to Turn 1, Alonso went for a move up the inside of Ocon but found his path blocked by the Frenchman who edged across towards the pit wall, and then switched back to the centre of the track to cover off his team-mate again. The duelling continued for the next few corners too.
“Never in my life have I seen a defence like Esteban’s today,” said Alonso over the team radio. “Never.”
In the end, Alonso did get ahead of Ocon even though both were hindered by a sub-optimal Alpine one-stop strategy that featured a long stint on the hard tyres and they came home eighth and ninth, a lap down on winner Max Verstappen.
The Spaniard later toned down his criticism but insisted Ocon had been “aggressive”.
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“The truth is I had to lift both in Turn 1 and 2 and then in Turn 5 especially, because I was on the outside of him and he was quite aggressive on that first lap,” the two-time former World Champion told reporters.
“But I lifted and so we didn’t touch, and in the end he let me pass and we finished eighth and ninth.
“It would not have changed much for the team. The important thing is to be close to McLaren and today we have scored the same points as them in a difficult race, so in the end I think the result is positive.”
The plus for Alpine was that even though both Alonso and Ocon finished behind Lando Norris who was seventh, Daniel Ricciardo in the other McLaren ended up down in 15th.
“Every point counts this year,” added the 41-year-old, speaking to DAZN. “Again, a race where we started in a good position has cost us points and I was eighth after a lot of fighting.
“We knew it would be difficult to go to one stop and to the limit, and that’s what happened.”
Somewhere around 16 hours after Alonso was speaking to the media, Aston Martin officially announced the news he will be leaving Alpine to join them at the end of this season.