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Formula 1

Monaco clash shows Alpine's line-up is now untenable

6 min read

Considering all the talk about their long-term poor relationship, Alpine hasn’t had that many flashpoints between its Formula 1 team-mates Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly.

But their Monaco Grand Prix collision feels like a terminal one.

Our team gives their take on the implications of the shunt and team boss Bruno Famin’s reaction to it, and we outline the drivers’ stances, too.


Scott Mitchell-Malm

Esteban Ocon Pierre Gasly

Alpine’s driver line-up is so combustible that it has been a delicate situation to manage over the last year and a half.

But it is surely not going to be a problem the team has to worry about for much longer. 

As F1’s silly season has developed, Ocon has been repeatedly linked with a move away. Gasly has not. All expectations are that this will be a ‘Gasly plus one’ combination in 2025.

It is no surprise this has been unsustainable as feared. They first collided in Australia last year, have threatened to find each other more than once since then, and clashed in Monaco in a way that deeply upset the team.

Gasly’s suggestion that there was a discussion beforehand with the understanding to prioritise the car that qualified ahead was borderline an accusation that Ocon broke a pre-race agreement. 

That would be a bit unfair, because you can never be sure how race circumstances will play out and if there’s a clear and clean way of getting past, you can understand a driver taking it. But that’s not what happened here. And Ocon incurred the immediate wrath of team boss Famin for what he did on lap one, which is understood to be exactly what was feared on Sunday morning.

Bruno Famin

Famin has not addressed English language media but in his immediate, emotional reaction in the moment to French television he pinned the blame wholly on Ocon and threatened consequences. 

A draconian response would be to bench Ocon and give reserve driver Jack Doohan – a candidate for a 2025 race seat – a real-world audition. Maybe there will be more subtle, internal reprisals deemed more appropriate.

Whatever the short-term consequences, there is only one long-term outlook: this team-mate pairing is not long for the grid. 

It is not about one incident, and Ocon has not always been the aggressor. But the strain is too much, the fears too often realised, the consequences too great.

There is surely no way this will be allowed to continue into 2025.


Esteban Ocon Sergio Perez Racing Point Singapore Grand Prix 2018

Ocon was 100% responsible. No matter which team he was driving for, he has made contact with his team-mate on many occasions.

He just simply doesn’t learn that the team is bigger than him and from what we have seen in the past he probably never will.

You shouldn’t ever have to remind your drivers not to drive into each other. Your battles are with the other 18 drivers.


Samarth Kanal

Gasly was forthright in condemning Ocon’s move on the first lap of the Monaco Grand Prix. Although he went on to score a point for Alpine, Gasly felt the team could have achieved more – and perhaps had both cars in the points.

“At that time we were P9 and P10 so [there] was absolutely no reason to try or risk to get both cars out,” he argued.

“You can’t rewrite the story so you’ll never know if things could have been different but for sure we were in a strong position as a team… so we had a different scenario planned in terms of strategy and unfortunately we could not work it that way, but we’ll never know.”

Gasly also touched on talks that the team held before the race to set an agreement between the two drivers.

“I was quite shocked and it was very unnecessary,” he said of Ocon’s move.

“I’m disappointed with the situation, especially [because] we had clear instructions before the race on what to do.

“It was honestly said in the strategy [meeting] that whoever qualifies ahead will get the priority on the strategy and the guy behind would then play a bit more of a support role, obviously absolutely no risk on the track like that, and really benefit from having the two cars in such a position.”

Gasly’s implication is that whoever was in the second Alpine would have to have played a strategic role – perhaps a ‘rear-gunner’ role in slowing down other cars and helping the Alpine ahead gain a free pitstop just as Fernando Alonso did at Aston Martin. Furthermore, Gasly expressed his sympathy with the rest of the team, which has just two points and sits ninth in the standings heading to Canada.

“A point or two might be crucial at the end of the year and we’ve just got to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” added Gasly.

“At the end of the day we’ve got 1,200 people working behind us. They’re all working their ass off to give us the best car possible and they’re all sitting watching the race on Sunday and they should not see such a situation.

“We will discuss it and we’ll do better.”

After initially dismissing the incident as just an “unfortunate” part of a “chaotic first lap” and saying “mistakes happen, that’s it”, Ocon issued an apology on social media for causing the collision.


I totally agree with the decision to penalise Ocon, although the wording from the stewards was a little puzzling. 

Ocon's penalty was because he tried an "overly ambitious overtaking attempt, from too far back".

I didn't see a problem with making the attempt in the first place, my issue with it was that he didn't give Gasly enough room on the exit. 

Perhaps the stewards would say that's part of the same problem - because Ocon came from too far back, he couldn't hold it tighter after the apex.

Ultimately the wording doesn't matter, as the main thing is the penalty was deserved. I just expected the penalty to be more directly for not leaving space for the car he was passing exiting the corner.


From our Monaco GP winners and losers selection

The reputation for being the master of team-mate feuds will inevitably be a big part of the Esteban Ocon F1 story, whatever shape it will take when all is said and done.

Just because he has been the common denominator in Perez vs Ocon, Alonso vs Ocon and now Gasly vs Ocon doesn't mean that he is automatically the troublemaker, the instigator, the problem, though.

It's not like, when it came to the on-track squabbles, team bosses often had reason to point specifically at Ocon over his team-mate at the time and say 'ah, well, that one's on you, buddy'.

Except today. Today... ah, well, that one's on you, buddy.

The move on Gasly may have been on in theory, as indeed there was a big discussion in The Race's work chat as to how the blame should be apportioned exactly.

But in an intra-team context it was an outrageous lunge that, however Ocon and Gasly played it once Ocon had committed to the move, was always going to end with at least one or both cars severely compromised, whether in terms of damage or track position.

It is completely unsurprising Famin was furious. He should be furious - but also dejected, because up to now Ocon had been one of the few bright spots of the team's weak season.

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