Szafnauer calls for F1 to revisit T-cars after Ocon’s qualy no-show

Michelle Foster
Esteban Ocon brings out the red flag as he crashes. Miami May 2022

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon brings out the red flag as he crashes. Miami May 2022

Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer has called for Formula 1 to revisit T-cars after Esteban Ocon missed qualifying in Miami due to a cracked chassis.

Formula 1 banned spare cars back in 2008, a regulation aimed at reducing costs.

The spare car, otherwise known as the T-car, was taken to every grand prix, fully built to mirror the regular race car.

Operationally, it would have its own small team of mechanics working alongside the race drivers’ teams to ensure they have the same configuration and set-up.

It meant if a driver had a crash, they could head back to the pits, climb into the spare and continue with the session.

Ocon was not given that option in Miami when, after crashing in FP3, Alpine found a crack in his chassis.

Given there is only two hours between the end of FP3 and qualifying, that meant the team did not have time to repair it, leaving the driver to start the Miami Grand Prix from the very back of the grid.

Szafnauer would like Formula 1 to revisit spare cars, or at least something close to it that would have allowed Ocon to take part in qualifying.

“We should look again at the presence of a third car,” he said, quoted by

“We used to have a T-car. I don’t think we should go back to that T-car completely because then you would need extra people.

“If the car is built with the same parts that you already have it on the track, you are more likely to have it ready for qualifying.”

The Alpine team boss also weighed in on drivers’ criticism of the FIA for ignoring their safety concerns on the Friday night in Miami.

Carlos Sainz crashed in Friday’s practice, losing it at Turn 13 and hitting the concrete wall on the entry to the slow Turn 14/15 chicane.

He told the FIA during that evening’s driver briefing they needed to put in a Tecpro barrier. His concerns were ignored.

Ocon crashed at the exact same place the next morning, the impact recorded at 51G.


“In my personal opinion it would have been safer if there had been a Tecpro,” said Szafnauer.

“It’s not the job of the FIA to protect the cars, but the protection of drivers and cars is intertwined. If the car is damaged, the driver can also be injured.”