Alonso-Ocon is a ‘classic teacher-student dynamic’

Sam Cooper
Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon look at a laptop. Melbourne, April 2022.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon looks at a laptop top whilst Fernando Alonso gestures with his hands. Melbourne, April 2022.

Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso’s working relationship has been hailed as a “classic teacher-student dynamic” by the CEO of Renault.

When Daniel Ricciardo left the then-Renault team in 2020, Esteban Ocon may not have expected to see a two-time former World Champion take his place but since then he and Fernando Alonso have developed one of the best team-mate relationships on the grid.

Ocon described Alonso as a “legend” and said he was up there with Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna when it came to the sport’s greats, but some suggested the Frenchman may struggle having the personality of Alonso alongside him.

That is, however, not an opinion shared by the CEO of Renault, Luca De Meo. When it was put to him about the negative impact Alonso could have on Ocon’s development, the 54-year-old Italian disagreed and described their relationship as a “classic teacher-student dynamic”.

“On the contrary, that’s where you can see the team spirit we were talking about,” De Meo told Corriere dello Sport. “We only had one upgraded car for Imola and instead of giving it to Ocon, who is ahead in the standings, we gave it to Fernando, who has been unlucky so far.

“Last year, Esteban saw the collaboration with Alonso as a great opportunity. A classic teacher-student dynamic, an exchange of information that continues.

“The drivers are heroes who go nowhere without the team. Even when it looked like they were clashing, they were actually pulling each other’s strings. At least, that is what they both told me. We don’t think the first/second driver logic is right.”

The speed of the Alpine had seem them tipped as a potential podium placer this season, but reliability issues mean they find themselves sixth in the Constructors’ Championship. De Meo was realistic though and said after a summer of change, he initially thought it may not be until 2023 that the team starts to gel.

“There are more resources for development during the season and we have a better structured organisation,” he said.

“We have put in or moved around important figures like [Matt] Harman, [Otmar] Szafnauer, [Bruno] Famin, Pat Fry. I thought it would take a year to get the deck in order. We weren’t messing around, we always had a plan – to set up a homogeneous team. That was probably what we lacked in the beginning. The label of third-place contenders is stuck on us from the outside.”

Even so, the Italian kept his cards close to his chest and when asked what his realistic expectations for the season were, he said: “Put everyone in a position to work at their best.”

“I am wary of those who explain when and why they will win the World Championship,” he added.


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