Ocon: Alpine “didn’t need to tell me what to do” in Alonso battle

Ocon: Alpine “didn’t need to tell me what to do” in Alonso battle

Ocon was lying in eighth place in the safety car queue, behind Sebastian Vettel and ahead of Alonso, who was on fresher tyres.

Before the restart, Ocon was told not to focus on Alonso behind and “to let him through nice and cleanly”.

Engineer: “Fernando has the tyre advantage on us. Let’s not focus on him. Let’s make sure we concentrate on beating Vettel eventually. Let’s make sure we let him through nice and clean, please. If you can confirm that, please, as well.”

Ocon: “Let me race, at the [right] moment I will, once the situation is settled a bit more. We can lose everything now also at the restart.”

Engineer: “Esteban, I don’t want you fighting with Fernando. Is that understood?”

Ocon: “I need to pass Vettel now. I won’t fight Fernando.”

Engineer: “That’s fine, you can pass Vettel, I don’t want you fighting Fernando. As long as that’s clear…”

The discussion aroused extra interest because it came a day after the pair clashed twice on the opening lap of the Interlagos sprint, ruining both of their races, and earning Alonso a penalty.

In the event, the restart worked out as Ocon has hoped, with him getting past Vettel at the first corner and then letting Alonso safely through later in the lap. The Spaniard went on to finish fifth, with Ocon taking eighth.

“I think it’s been not very well translated,” Ocon said of the radio discussion. “Because people thought I didn’t want to let Fernando past. I said, no, I don’t let him pass at the restart. I’m going to pass Seb. And then once the situation is settled, we will figure that out,

“I’m not going to fight. I’m going to let him go. And that’s what I did. I couldn’t have held them. He was very fast on the soft tyre. And obviously, there were points for the whole team to grab.

“So I knew I was in a situation, and the team didn’t need to tell me what to do.”

Both drivers came under heavy criticism from team boss Otmar Szafnauer after their clash in the sprint, but after the main race, Ocon was keen to move on, noting: “I think the team is happy today. Today is today, last night is last night.”

However asked by Motorsport.com if he had sorted things out with Alonso he said: “No, we didn’t speak.”

Ocon denied that there was now some tension with Alonso.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“No, I mean, it was not too nice what he said in the media,” said Ocon. “I always have a lot of respect for him. He’s a legend and I will keep respect for him forever. And, yeah, doesn’t matter what he said to you guys. I prefer when we speak together.”

Asked if Alonso’s impending departure had changed his perspective on him, Ocon joked: “It motivates me even more to beat him next year!”

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Alpine’s haul of 14 points in Brazil was a huge help in the battle with McLaren for fourth in the constructors’ championship, with Alpine now holding a 19-point advantage

“I’m super happy for the team. In general, I think 14 points is a game-changer for us at this stage, there is only one race to go. And we go into Abu Dhabi with a big cushion.

“So starting from where we were the car was really, really quick. And yeah, we can be glad that we tried two different strategies. One worked a bit better than the other, but we covered ourselves and we executed perfectly both.

“We can’t relax. Still, we’re going to have to be pushing like crazy into the last round, but clearly going with some points ahead that definitely gives us a little bit of pressure off.”

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