How Esteban Ocon avoided a suspension for the F1 Canadian Grand Prix despite Alpine boss Famin’s wishes

Photo Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team
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Co-Author: Syrine Ferchichi

For the Alpine F1 Team, this year’s Monaco GP was eventful, but for all the wrong reasons.

With internal conflict between the team’s drivers, the clash between Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon not only ruined their race and points scoring capability, but sparked intense public and private reactions from team boss Bruno Famin.

The cars collided on the opening lap of the grand prix due to Ocon’s ambitious, but ill-timed move, where he dived up the inside of his teammate at turn 7, leaving his stablemate with no space on exit. 

The clash saw Gasly suffer a front-right puncture whilst Ocon’s A524 flew into the air before suffering major damage upon landing. Gasly was able to restart the race in 10th position due to a red flag caused by an incident involving Sergio Perez and the Haas cars. 

After the race, Gasly accused Ocon of going against the team’s pre-race arrangement, ruining not only his own race, with Ocon’s car requiring a complete gearbox change, but also nearly doing the same to his teammate.

Famin did not hold back when speaking to Canal+ about the race, claiming that, “Esteban’s attack was totally out of order. And we’ll decide on the consequences.

“There was a lot of damage to the car. Esteban’s left rear suspension is bent and the gearbox housing is damaged. 

“We’re changing the whole gearbox, which is a big job. 

“It’s sad, this kind of incident. It’s exactly what we didn’t want to happen.”

L’Équipe reported that Famin’s initial response was to suspend Ocon for the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix and replace him with the team’s 21-year-old reserve driver Jack Doohan. This decision, however, would have required approval from Alpine’s legal team in order to avoid ramifications, similar to the Oscar Piastri situation in 2022.

Alpine’s legal team — set up after the contract saga with the Australian driver who ended up at McLaren — advised caution, noting that suspending Ocon could lead to legal challenges, including the possibility of the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix winner arriving in Montreal with a bailiff to assert his right to drive as he has a valid contract to the end of this season. 

Ultimately, the decision was made to allow Ocon to race in Canada, with his five-place grid penalty from Monaco. However, the 27-year-old will be stepping aside for FP1, giving way to Doohan who will be driving the first practice session at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montréal on Friday.

The team have announced that Ocon will leave the team in 2025, and there is lots of speculation about his next move. 

Despite his connections with Mercedes, it’s unlikely that he’s a candidate to replace Lewis Hamilton’s spot next season. Instead, he is in talks with Haas and Sauber/Audi.