Szafnauer happy to let Alonso and Ocon race each other

Sam Cooper
Otmar Szafnauer smiles during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Bahrain, March 2022.

Alpine's Otmar Szafnauer smiles on the grid during the Bahrain Grand Prix. Bahrain, March 2022.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer said he is happy to let his two drivers continue to race each other following the showdown during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso‘s jostle for position was one of the major highlights of Sunday’s race, especially at a time when the top four looked settled.

The pair overtook one another and while other teams may have told their drivers to stay in position, Alpine were happy to let the two battle it out.

“It was fine, it was clean,” team principal Otmar Szafnauer said as per The Race.

“It’s what the fans want to see. And we told them at the beginning, we’ll allow them to race.

“We were losing a little bit more time than anticipated. That’s a little bit because of the track specific stuff here and a little bit because the cars can follow each other easier now, which was the aim of the new regulations.

“And because of it, if you can follow easier, you can start overtaking each other one lap after the next.”

The downside of the battle was it allowed Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas to close the gap on the two. Ocon was eventually told to hold position behind Alonso but it backfired as the Frenchman was overtaken by the Finn.

Szafnauer was asked by The Race if the team would issue orders were they at risk of losing a place to another team.

“That’s exactly the type of thing we have to look at – when do we tell them to not start overtaking each other because it does cost you time?” he replied.

“That is exactly the trade-off.”


While the battle between the two may have caused Szafnauer some unnecessary stress, he will be have pleased to see his new team fighting for point-scoring positions. They are fourth in the Constructors’ Championship – behind Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull – but would have scored even more had Alonso’s car not failed late on.

“It’s a high speed track here, the walls are close, but they did exactly what we talked about before the race,” Szafnauer said.

“And it was good for everybody. As it turned out, had Fernando not stopped on track, we would have been sixth and seventh.

“We did give the fans a bit of a show. And I think that’s what it’s about. You’ve got to let them race.”