Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Istanbul Park, 2021

Unseen near-miss with Alonso cost Ocon a place in Q3

2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Alpine could have claimed top-10 starting positions for both their cars in today’s Turkish Grand Prix had it not been for an unfortunate incident involving the two drivers which wasn’t shown during the qualifying broadcast.

Fernando Alonso reached Q3 and will start from fifth on the grid. But team mate Esteban Ocon failed to make the cut for the top 10 shoot-out and will line up 12th.

Ocon explained he had been held up by another car on his final run in Q2. “I had to about the lap due to traffic, unfortunately, so I couldn’t do the last the attempt,” he said. “Probably it would have been just enough to get into Q3.”

The car in question belonged to his team mate, who he caught at turn four. Alonso, who was not on a fast lap, moved out of the way to let his team mate by, but as Ocon got accelerated out of the corner he slithered wide and nearly ran into the other Alpine. “Fucking hell,” he exclaimed after backing off to avoid Alonso, ruining his lap.

As Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski explained, had Alonso not been there Oocon could have recovered from his error and continued.

“His last run in Q2 was what we call a ‘prep-fast’. One preparation for the tyres and one fast lap. When he started his fast lap I think he had a little bit of a wobble at the exit of turn four, between four and five, which is a pretty narrow, lots of corners one after the other area of the track.

“Fernando was there on the left side, very slow, ready to let him through. So he came out of four and normally he would have crossed to the right to take five and actually had a wobble and slid and ended up just behind Fernando and had to brake and abort his lap.

“Obviously, if Fernando’s car hadn’t been there, he would have saved his lap because he could have just got into turn five in a sub-optimal trajectory. But Fernando had to put his car somewhere and that was the best place he could have put it.”

Budkowski said the team had reviewed the incident with the drivers and there were no hard feelings between the pair.

“Esteban was fine with it,” he said. “We all watched the video together and he was fine with it. Both drivers spoke after the qualifying also to make sure there was no misunderstanding. So it’s a closed chapter.”

However Budkowski suspects it denied Ocon the chance to join his team mate in the top 10 on the grid. “He had the pace to sneak into Q3,” he said. “Not comfortably, but I think he would have been into Q3 with his last lap.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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3 comments on “Unseen near-miss with Alonso cost Ocon a place in Q3”

  1. Q2:
    1: Alonso 1:24,618 Ocon 1:25,566
    2: Alonso 1:24,046 Ocon 1:24,842
    3: Alonso 1:23,914 Ocon –

    Alonso’s every fast lap was good enough for Q3, Ocon wasn’t close enough. But yes, bad luck for Ocon and he could still try.

  2. Initially, I thought Alonso tried to hold up Ocon. But then I saw the footage. Sorry, Ocon but it’s your fault that you can’t warm up the tyres for two laps.

    Ocon was wobbling in the first corner on his last lap in Q2, then he wobbled on the exit when he catched up to Alonso and failed to go to the right, where the trajectory is. Alonso was too far in front after the corner to hold up Ocon.

    BTW, Ocon’s engineer asked him to give Alonso tow the lap before, which Ocon simply ignored. So, someone can’t accept the fact that and old guy is faster.

    1. Indeed Alonso was at the only place he could be and outside of the racing line, it’s just Ocon having a big oversteer moment in turn 4 and end up right behind Alonso’s almost stopped car on the left.

      Now maybe with better software the team could avoid tripping into each other’s car in the most complicated parts of the circuit.

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