Ocon: Alpine F1 swap policy “clear” amid Gasly confusion in Japan

In the final stages of last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, Gasly was asked to let Ocon by to repay the favour from earlier in the race, as the pair ran ninth and 10th.

He initially refused to comply and only let Ocon through on the last corner of the final lap after repeated pleas by his race engineer.

Gasly reacted furiously because he felt he was the quicker car on the day and was always going to be ahead thanks to his faster strategy.

His misunderstanding also stemmed from a lack of communication before the race about this exact scenario.

But interim team principal Bruno Famin said the reversal was the right thing to do because Gasly was only allowed to pass Ocon to see if he could overtake the Aston Martin of Fernando Alonso in front, with the positions then swapped when it became clear that wasn’t going to happen.

From Ocon’s position there was never any confusion, because he felt Alpine’s policy on the matter had been consistent.

“I’ve been with this team for four years now and the rule has always been this one, with Daniel [Ricciardo], with Fernando,” he replied when Motorsport.com asked him if it was always clear to him that he was going to get the position back.

“If one driver swaps position, so in that instance I gave the position to Pierre, he needs to get the position in front, which was Fernando, in order to be keeping that position.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

“Otherwise, you just give the place back to your team-mate. That’s always what we’ve done. If I’m on the other side, I will obviously do the same.”

Ocon felt Gasly’s argument that he was the faster car and therefore should have deserved to keep the position, didn’t matter in this situation.

“It’s not really relevant,” he explained. “You can be as fast as you want. If you don’t make the move, then you never know who’s going to be in front. And before that, I was in front.

“Obviously, we will discuss that to see what we could have done better, [more] clearly as a team.

“But if you look at Brazil 2021, that was the same with Fernando, if you look at Sochi [2020], the same with Daniel.

“It’s always been a team order that I’ve known, and I wasn’t surprised that this was the case.”

Ocon added that he was pleasantly surprised to pick up points after being involved in a Turn 1 melee with Valtteri Bottas and Alex Albon, prompting an early pitstop due to a puncture.

“Yeah, definitely, I thought it was race over from lap one when I got that puncture,” he said.

“I saw all these cars sandwiched on the side, and there was not much anybody could have done really [differently]. It’s an unfortunate incident.

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“The safety car helped things, I boxed and slowly with a one-stop hard-hard we managed to do a very decent race and optimise our results.

“We ended up with both cars in the points, which is a good reward after a tricky week where we didn’t have the pace that we hoped for.”

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