Fernando Alonso penalised by stewards over sprint clash with Esteban Ocon

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, taps Fernando Alonso with a microphone. Brazil, November 2022. Credit: Alamy
Esteban Ocon, Alpine, taps Fernando Alonso with a microphone. Brazil, November 2022. Credit: Alamy

As tension bubbles between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, both faced the Sao Paulo Grand Prix stewards after the sprint – and the Spaniard ended up being penalised.

The Alpine pair were certainly not on the best of terms after a sprint involving several incidents between the team-mates.

Having come very close to contact at Turn 3, Alonso found himself on the outside at Turn 4 as he rode the kerb, briefly losing control of his A522 but rescuing the slide just in time to avoid collecting Ocon.

Alonso, though, lost his front wing as he ran out of time to commit to the right of Ocon down the main straight.

“Just lost the front wing, thanks to our friend,” came the sarcastic radio message afterwards from Alonso.

The stewards took the Turn 4 moment no further, but both Ocon and Alonso were summoned regarding that collision on the straight.

It was the two-time former World Champion they deemed responsible, hitting him with a five-second time penalty and two points on his licence, taking him to six for the 12-month period.

The time penalty means Alonso drops from 15th on the grid for the grand prix to 18th – sharing the ninth row with his team-mate.

“Alonso started a pass on Car 31 at Turn 15,” read the stewards’ statement. “The team noted Ocon was unusually slow because of the aero damage due to the incident at Turn 4, however the stewards determined via telemetry that Ocon was at similar speeds to other cars at the same point on the track that were not in a tow.

“Alonso, however, was significantly faster as he had the tow and – as he admitted in the hearing – slightly misjudged the time to pull out and struck Ocon from behind, his front wing striking Ocon’s rear tyre.

“The stewards found Alonso was wholly at fault for the collision which, at those speeds and at that location on the track, was dangerous.”

Alonso was forced to pit for a new front wing, dropping him to the back of the pack with P15 on track proving to be the extent of his recovery.

Next season, Alonso will switch to Aston Martin and with only two races now left to go including Sao Paulo, he spoke of being glad that his time at Alpine will soon be over.

Asked by Sky Sports F1 if if he had spoken to Ocon after the incident, Alonso responded: “No, not really. I don’t need [to], I think. It’s one more race and then it’s over. Finally.

“I was very close to the wall in Jeddah, I think, close to the wall in Budapest, today in Turn 4 now here.

“So either way, these things are, you know, sometimes it’s very competitive inside the team – and it happened to him with [Sergio] Perez, with [Max] Verstappen here unlapping himself…

“So, it’s one more race.”

Ocon was keen to stress the importance of himself and Alonso continuing to work together as they start from P17 and P18 respectively on Sunday, Alpine needing to salvage a result with McLaren now only five points behind in the pursuit of P4 in the Constructors’ Championship.

“Unfortunate for the team what happened. We were in such a good position, we are now at the back,” Ocon told Sky Sports F1.

“We have a lot of work to do tomorrow so it will be important to work together to come back through the field. We’ve done that a thousand times in the last two years.

“It’s unfortunate what happened on lap one. I was trying to attack the McLaren, took my line into Turn 4 and Fernando came out of nowhere on the outside, so we touched. From there on, my race was pretty much over.

“I’m quite calm – if he isn’t, he will be for tomorrow.”

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