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EXPLAINED: Could Alpine really bench Ocon for the Canadian Grand Prix?

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto
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Esteban Ocon was not a popular man on Sunday in Monaco after he collided with Alpine team mate Pierre Gasly.

His team boss Bruno Famin was furious, telling French broadcaster Canal+: “It’s sad, this kind of incident. It’s exactly what we didn’t want to see. And there will be appropriate consequences.”

READ MORE: Alpine will deal with Ocon and Gasly’s Monaco clash ‘behind closed doors’ insists Famin

So, what is likely to happen to Ocon? Well, first, let’s go back to the incident itself.

Ocon attempted a dive down the inside of Gasly – the duo running 10th and 11th respectively – through Portier corner. The two collided, with Ocon’s car launched into the air before coming crashing back down.

2024 Monaco Grand Prix: Gasly furious after Ocon sent airborne in clash between the two Alpines

Both cars suffered damage, leaving Gasly furious, as he shouted down the radio: “What did he do? Why did he try to attack? Oh my gosh. The whole car is damaged now.”

Gasly was able to restart the race following the red flag, but Ocon’s car damage was so significant, he was forced into his first retirement of the season.

This was particularly irritating for Alpine as they have had a woeful start to the season, scoring just one point in the opening seven races and thus running 10th and 11th in Monaco offered them a superb chance to score with both cars and significantly boost their tally.

READ MORE: Gasly fumes at Alpine intra-team clash in Monaco as Ocon takes to social media to apologise

Ocon’s decision to make a bold attempt at a pass put not just one but both cars at risk unnecessarily – and it especially irked both Gasly and the Alpine senior management because a clear instruction to work together had been issued before the Grand Prix.

Tensions have been increasing inside the team following Miami, where Ocon and Gasly – childhood rivals who had a difficult relationship – went wheel-to-wheel for almost the entirety of the opening lap of the race – causing unnecessary stress for the team.

With points at such a premium and a specific instruction made before the race, you can understand why Famin in the heat of the moment was so annoyed with Ocon.

MONACO - 2024/05/25: BWT Alpine F1 Team's French driver Esteban Ocon is seen in the paddock after

Esteban Ocon will take a five-place grid drop in Canada following the incident with his team mate in Monaco

Famin and Ocon are understood to have spoken on Sunday evening, with the Frenchman apologising for his actions and subsequently taking the blame publicly with a tweet. “Today’s incident was my fault,” he said. “The gap was too small in the end and I apologise to the team on this one.”

Fortunately, Gasly was able to hold on to secure 10th and a vital point – with the top-10 the same as the starting grid for the first time in history – which went some way to sparing the team’s blushes.

READ MORE: Ocon to take five-place grid drop at Canadian GP after dramatic first-lap clash with team mate Gasly in Monaco

The consequences of dropping Ocon

Talks are planned for this week to discuss whether there will be any repercussions. There has been some speculation that Ocon will be “benched” for the Canadian Grand Prix, where he is set to serve a five-place grid penalty for the Monaco collision, with Alpine turning to reserve driver Jack Doohan for that race before recalling Ocon for Spain.

Such a move would allow Alpine to assess Doohan’s potential, as they weigh up giving their junior a race seat next season. However, dropping Ocon as a punishment is an extreme measure which has never been used by another team in F1 history – and is extremely unlikely to happen.

If that decision is made it would likely damage the relationship with Ocon beyond repair while also damaging the Frenchman’s chances of securing a seat elsewhere on the grid, if they decide to part ways at the end of this season when his contract expires.

It’s more likely that the team will sit down and discuss the events of Monaco before putting a formal ‘rules of engagement’ document in place for future races to ensure the team is put first.

Jack Doohan before qualifying ahead of the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco in

There has been speculation Alpine could turn to reserve driver Jack Doohan for Canada

A familiar arrangement

Ocon will be familiar with a 'rules of engagament' arrangement after Force India used a similar document for him and then team mate Sergio Perez in 2017 following collisions in Grands Prix. Mercedes did something similar for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg in 2014.

If they go ahead with such an arrangement, Ocon will need to adhere to it to ensure he is not at risk of losing his seat and then put the attention back on his talent and ability on track, as he continues talks with multiple teams – including Alpine – regarding a seat next year.

READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from Monaco – Leclerc hit the jackpot, but who else played their cards right in Monte Carlo?

He will want to avoid getting a label as someone who crashes with their team mate too often. That was the sixth time in his career that such a clash has happened.

The first three happened while he was at Force India/Racing Point, the Frenchman colliding with team mate Sergio Perez at Belgium and Baku in 2017 and Singapore in 2018. He then banged wheels with Fernando Alonso in the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Then at Alpine, he collided with Gasly at last year’s Australian Grand Prix (in the video below), before the two got too close for comfort again last time out in Monaco.

2023 Australian Grand Prix: Chaos and multiple crashes on second restart sees race immediately stopped again

Such an image is not ideal at a time when he is trying to secure his future. It is understood Haas and Sauber/Audi are very interested in securing his services, with the Frenchman having outperformed Gasly for the most part so far this year – but incidents such as this will not likely help his cause.

Similarly from Alpine’s perspective, such a move by Ocon only increases the chances of the French manufacturer choosing to keep Gasly and mix things up with the other seat, whether that’s bringing in experience such as Valtteri Bottas (Carlos Sainz is thought unlikely to go there) or going for youth by promoting Doohan or Victor Martins.

We’ll have to wait and see what Alpine choose to do, but even if Ocon escapes any significant sanction – he’ll need to be on his best behaviour to ensure he has a future in Formula 1 beyond the end of this season.

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