RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were caught up in some intra-team drama during the F1 Sprint at Interlagos as two separate collisions cost them valuable points, along with starting positions for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix – with the stewards demoting Alonso to P18 with a post-Sprint five-second penalty.

    With the Alpines lining up in P6 and P7 for the 100km dash, Alonso attempted a move around the outside of his team mate at Turn 4 on the opening lap, only for the pair to make contact, which was repeated moments later along the main straight.

    Alonso was forced to pit with front wing damage sustained in the second incident, which is being investigated by the stewards, as he came home in a lowly 15th place, while Ocon’s pace deteriorated and he slumped to 18th.

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    After expressing his frustration at Ocon over the radio, Alonso offered further thoughts when speaking to the media post-race, saying: “There was a lot of too-close [fighting], unfortunately. It’s far from ideal when it’s your team mate, but it’s been a little like this [with him] all year long.”

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    Alonso limped back to the pits with front wing damage after clashing with team mate Ocon

    Asked if he will speak to Ocon about their run-ins, Alonso added: “It’s one more race and then it’s over, finally. I was very close to the wall in Jeddah with him, close to the wall in Budapest, today in Turn 4 now here… Sometimes it’s very competitive inside a team; it happened to him with [Sergio] Perez, with Verstappen here unlapping himself so… it’s one more race.”

    “I feel bad for the guys today,” he added, “but I will try to have a good race tomorrow.”

    The battle for P4 in the constructors’ standings has become even tighter after the third and final Sprint of the season, with Lando Norris’s seventh-place finish meaning McLaren are now just five points behind Alpine.

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    Giving his take on the incidents with Alonso, and dropped points, Ocon said: “I mean, I guess the most difficult thing is what we’ve lost in this race, at the back. Unfortunately, this is costly for the team at the wrong moment.

    “It is unfortunate what happened on Lap 1. I was trying to attack the McLarens, took my line into [Turn] 4 and Fernando came out of nowhere from the outside. So we touched and from there on, my race was pretty much over.

    “We are going to need to be working together tomorrow to come back for the team, score some points – hopefully we can do that.”

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    Ocon fell down the order throughout the Sprint

    There was a twist in the tale later in the evening, however, as the stewards ruled that Alonso had been “wholly at fault” for the pit straight incident, handing the Spaniard a five-second time penalty, along with two penalty points.

    That will demote Alonso from P15 to P18 on the grid, Ocon moving up one spot to P17.