Hostile Spanish GP crowd targeting Esteban Ocon and Alpine led to cancellation threat

Michelle Foster
Alpine's Esteban Ocon with a stern look.

Alpine's Esteban Ocon.

The organisers of the Spanish Grand Prix had to step in when Esteban Ocon was booed by spectators during a fan zone event.

The Frenchman, together with his team-mate Pierre Gasly, took to the stage at the fan zone at the Barcelona circuit on Saturday but his reception was anything but welcoming.

Esteban Ocon was booed during a fan zone event

Announcing Alpine, boos began to ring out from the crowd and reportedly grew in volume as Ocon stepped onto the stage.

There was more booing whenever Frenchman spoke, prompting the organisers to threaten to cancel the event.

They displayed a message that read: “Please be respectful to all teams and guests, anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated and may cause the cancellations of interviews.”

It’s not known if the jeering was a result of Ocon’s recent controversies, which included crashing into his team-mate Gasly in Monaco and the team order row in Canada, or his past tussles with Spain’s Fernando Alonso. Perhaps a little bit of both.

Ocon and Alonso were team-mates for two years at Alpine and were involved in several on-track incidents, even making contact twice in the Sprint race at the 2022 Brazilian GP weekend.

Alonso ended his time as Ocon’s team-mate declaring: “It’s far from ideal when it’s your team-mate, but it’s been a little like this [with Ocon] all year long.”

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However, it wasn’t only Ocon who was booed by the crowds at the Spanish Grand Prix with Max Verstappen facing the same after winning Sunday’s race.

Lando Norris, who finished second to Verstappen at the Barcelona circuit, believes the triple World Champion deserves more credit for what he has achieved.

People are always going to boo, I think, no matter what,” said the McLaren driver who was two seconds down on Verstappen at the finishing line.

“You have it in every sport. You support people and you don’t support other people. I think it’s happened in sport for years and years and years.

“And Max is winning every race, so people are not going to like that. And it definitely makes the sport less exciting, but that’s just because he’s doing a good job. There’s a fine line. I think everyone within the sport appreciates it and respects it. You have to. And I think everyone does.

“But people who don’t know the most about motorsport are probably not going to be able to appreciate as much because they don’t know what really goes into it and what it takes to be in a position and do what he’s doing.

“You’re always going to have boos is my thing. And I think there’s a level of disrespect and respect in any version of disrespect. I don’t think that’s OK.”

“I’m trying to not dig a hole for myself here. I just think, whatever. I would say no. I think people appreciate what Max has done. I think people maybe should appreciate more.

“But every driver is going to get boos at some point.”

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