Esteban Ocon claims he did all the groundwork at Alpine, while Fernando Alonso was expected to contribute very little to the Formula 1 team.
The Frenchman concluded that Alonso wasn’t struggling with team duties towards the end of his two years there, leaving it to Ocon to fill the gap.
The Alpine duo had – certainly in their first season – a harmonious relationship, each highlighting teamwork as Ocon won a chaotic 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix, aided by some stubborn defensive drives from Alonso to stop the fast-closing Lewis Hamilton.
But not for the first time in Alonso’s career, tensions developed and the two riders were rebuked by their team bosses Otmar Szafnauer and Laurent Rossi after colliding in the sprint at the 2022 Sao Paulo GP.
Aston Martin-bound Alonso said after the incident: “It was a bit like that [with Ocon] all year long” and that “one more race and it’s finally over”, while also sarcastically referring to his colleague as “our friend”.
Alpine 2022 F1 drivers: Fernando Alonso (left) and Esteban Ocon
Ocon responded that some of the comments from the two-time former world champion were ‘unnecessary’ – and has now gone further by claiming Alonso has given him more than his share of the team’s rider responsibilities.
“Obviously I was disappointed by what he said in the press and not internally,” Ocon said in an interview with Ouest France.
“We didn’t have any discussions about it. I will keep my respect for him. It’s good that he’s going to Aston Martin and we’re going our separate ways.”
“Honestly, the work was 98% on my back and 2% on his. I was overworked. I did all the development in the simulator, the marketing trips…”
Unlike the previous two seasons, Ocon failed to achieve a podium finish in 2022, his best result being fourth when he edged Hamilton for that spot at the Japanese GP.
The 26-year-old offered the perhaps somewhat controversial view that the reason for his podium drought in 2022 was a change in race officials. Michael Masi was ousted at most of the season’s grands prix and replaced by Niels Wittich – although Lando Norris was the only non-Red Bull, Ferrari or Mercedes driver to stand on the podium in any of the 22 races.
“It’s the lack of circumstances,” Ocon said.
“Race control has changed; they make more ‘old-fashioned’ decisions. There are fewer twists and turns in the race, so there are fewer opportunities.”