Otmar Szafnauer reveals FIA discussions over Esteban Ocon’s wobbly rear wing

Michelle Foster
Esteban Ocon lapping ahead of Lando Norris. Canada June 2023

Alpine driver Esteban Ocon lapping ahead of Lando Norris. Canada June 2023

Alpine had no concerns about the safety of Esteban Ocon’s loose rear wing in Canada as Otmar Szafnauer says they knew it would hold.

Lapping behind Ocon at the Canadian Grand Prix, McLaren driver Lando Norris noticed that the Frenchman’s rear wing had been wobbling heavily for a number of laps.

“If this falls off and hits someone it’s going to be really bad,” the Briton told his team over the radio.

Adding that it is “getting worse and worse”, Norris said it was “dangerous”.

Neither Alpine nor the FIA called the driver in for repairs, although this season it’s up to the teams to make the call as to whether a part is still safe even if it’s broken or loose.

Szafnauer says Alpine knew the wing, a new one that the team introduced at the Canadian Grand Prix, would stay attached to the car.

“The wing held,” he told Motorsport.com. “We designed and built this wing, so we knew what was going on. And we were glad it wouldn’t come loose.

“We test this in research and development. We put it through these tests simply because of the way it’s mounted and we’re therefore seeing these types of modes and understanding whether or not it’s going to come loose.”

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The team boss did confirm that the FIA came down to the team’s garage to speak with them about it with Alpine explaining why they felt the wing was not a safety concern.

“The FIA came up to us and said it looks like your rear wing is moving and we looked at that and talked about it,” he said. “We were confident that it would be okay with a few laps to go.”

But while the wing didn’t fall off and Ocon was able to bring his car home in eighth place, Szafnauer admits they don’t know if that issue prevented the driver from fighting Alex Albon for seventh place.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “We just looked at the aero data. The aerodynamicists say it wasn’t anything big, but it could also have an impact on the underbody aerodynamics because it was a beam wing issue – and they work together.”

He, though, feels it was more of a drag issue that stopped Ocon from being able to pass the Williams.

“In the end we were probably six or seven tenths a lap faster than him. But despite the seven-tenths and the DRS we couldn’t overtake them because they had so little drag,” he explained.