Motor racing-Monaco mistake not cause of Alpine exit, says Ocon

By Thomson Reuters Jun 6, 2024 | 4:40 PM

By Steve Keating

MONTREAL (Reuters) – One mistake is not the reason he lost his seat at struggling Formula One outfit Alpine, Esteban Ocon on Thursday, insisting there were no hard feelings about ending his five-season stint with the team.

After triggering a first-lap crash with team mate Pierre Gasly at the Monaco Grand Prix, Alpine team principal Bruno Famin warned there would be consequences and on Monday the Frenchman appeared to pay for the lapse of judgement when it was announced his contract would not be renewed.

If that was not enough, Ocon will continue to pay for his error at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix where he will have to contend with a five-place grid drop after stewards ruled he had caused the collision that pitched his car high into the air and out of the race.

The incident provided the low point in a tough campaign in which the Renault-owned team have collected only two points to sit ninth and second-bottom of the standings.

“We’ve been talking with the team for several months,” Ocon said of a possible contract extension. “It’s the kind of team that is not taking decisions on just a single race.

“We’ve agreed mutually to come to an end, basically at the end of the contract. I’ve spent five years inside this team five years in terms of Formula One world is a long time.

“Finish the collaboration on the high.”

Ocon described the decision as an amicable parting of the ways, the 27-year-old insisting that following a half-decade of service at Alpine he was excited about new challenges, though he shed no light on what those might be.

With 16 races remaining this year, Ocon will have the opportunity to show his quality but Alpine are already auditioning possible replacements like their Australian reserve Jack Doohan, who will step into the Frenchman’s car for first Friday practice.

Alpine have also not made a decision on Gasly, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

One scenario would see him remain with Alpine and, if so, he expressed no sadness that his tense relationship with Ocon was coming to an end.

“It’s long story between Esteban and myself and I think so far in the last a year and a half we managed to work and cooperate very professionally,” Gasly said.

“It hasn’t always been easy as you would imagine from two very competitive drivers, but considering the story between us I think it has been good.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Montreal, Editing by Ed Osmond)