Why Ocon rejected Gasly’s furious complaints about Alpine’s “joke” team orders

Formula 1

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A furious Pierre Gasly climbed out of his car at the end of the Japanese Grand Prix seeking answers why he had been told to let him team mate past on the final lap.

The Alpine drivers swapped places twice during the race. Esteban Ocon let Gasly by on lap 46 of 53, but a few laps later Gasly was given an instruction to return the place.

Gasly reacted with disbelief, asking race engineer Karel Loos whether he was serious about the instruction. He eventually capitulated and pulled over at the exit of the last corner on the final lap, but told his team the decision was a “complete joke”. After taking the chequered flag Gasly began beating his steering wheel and halo in frustration, and didn’t stop until he’d climbed that hill at Dunlop, turn seven.

According to Gasly the possibility the team would have to swap the running order of their cars had come up before the race. But he did not expect the positions to be swapped back again at the end.

“It was [said] that Esteban, if they would decide to undercut me with the strategy, to favour him, they would obviously undercut me who was the leading car, and they will let me past so we don’t lose time. But it was never said that we will need to invert again the position because I started ahead and I was always in front.

“As a team, [car] ten or nine, nine or ten, it’s the same. But it was definitely not something I expected and not something I really understand as well as I was the leading car, but we will talk.”

Gasly started the race 12th, two places ahead of Ocon, both on the medium tyre compound. However Ocon had to pit at the end of the first lap after picking up a puncture.

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Both ran two stints on hards to get to the end of the race, Ocon having to do much longer stints due to his early first pit stop. Gasly believed Ocon had got ahead of him through the benefit of the ‘undercut’, being the first of the pair to take new tyres.

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“It was clear that with the strategy they had planned at some point Esteban would undercut me,” he explained. “But my race was faster, and I will have to pass him back.

“I would have overtook him anyway on the race track because I had fresher tyres and this was part of the strategy, it was telling us before the race. Until then, it was all similar, it’s just the last lap. But it’s something we’ll talk together, we’ll explain and I’m sure next time the other way around Esteban will play it fair.”

Alpine asked Ocon to let his team mate past so Gasly could attempt to catch Fernando Alonso. Ocon’s race engineer Josh Peckett told him: “Pierre is two seconds behind. We need to let him past this lap, please. I know that means dropping back, but we have to do it this lap.”

“If he doesn’t gain the position, we give it back, can you confirm?” Ocon responded. “We’ll see what we can do,” he was told.

When Alpine decided Gasly would not catch the Aston Martin, he was told to give the position. Ocon said Alpine’s approach to exchanging positions between its drivers to maximise their strategic opportunities has been consistent.

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“I’ve been with this team since four years and the rule has always been the same,” he said. “If you swap the position initially, which I did to Pierre I gave him the position, if you don’t get the car in front then you always switch back before the end. It was the same with Daniel, it was the same with Fernando.

“We were doing that, if it’s me, if it’s him, if it’s the other way around I will do the same. I always prefer to fight on track which is more a bit of an old school way but I understand the team’s point of view, which is to try and get some more points. I think today we maximised what was on the table and we can be proud of ourselves [for] good teamwork.”

Ocon’s radio messages from the second position swap

PeckettOkay mate Pierre is going to be asked to swap positions this lap.
PeckettOkay mate last lap. Pierre has been told.
PeckettSo this is the last lap. Pierre’s been told to give the position back.
OconYeah, it would be nice to tell him again, because I don’t think he can hear.
PeckettHe’s been told.
PeckettAnd that is the chequered flag.
PeckettLet’s go to scenario 12, please, scenario 12 and get some fluids on board as well.
PeckettOkay mate so that is P9, which I think give where we started, and a first-lap puncture, I’ll take. So nice work.
OconYeah, thank you for that at the end. It’s good. A good team effort.

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Gasly’s radio messages from the second position swap

LoosSo two laps to go. Last over 39.2. Gap 4.8.
LoosOkay mate so got Esteban 2.4 behind instruction on the pit wall, can we swap back around, please.
GaslyMate, what the fuck? You’re kidding me? I was faster. I’m on fresher rubber. If he didn’t let me past I would have overtaken him anyway.
LoosYeah, we’ll discuss it in the office, please. Swap around, please.
GaslyAre you, are you serious? You’re being serious? I started in front, I was in front the whole race, you let him undercut me and then…
LoosMate I’m not joking. It’s an instruction coming from the pitwall. Let’s do it next time around please. Turn 16.
GaslyYou confirm you want to swap?
LoosAffirm mate, affirm please.
GaslyYeah. Thank you. Complete joke.
LoosPlease Pierre.
GaslyI’m doing it.
LoosCopy, thank you. You don’t have to say anything now. We’ll discuss it after. Okay that’s the chequered flag. It’ll be scenario 12.
LoosCan we have scenario 12, please.
LoosOkay mate so let’s stop the car in parc ferme.
GaslyNo it’s okay, no it’s okay mate. It’s okay. Let’s stop here. It’s okay. I understand. I understand what you’re doing. Okay.
LoosLet’s discuss it out of the car mate. Just switch off

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Keith Collantine
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16 comments on “Why Ocon rejected Gasly’s furious complaints about Alpine’s “joke” team orders”

  1. While the late swap was weird & Gasly’s radio comm on the final lap tense, his hand gestures & bird-flipping after the chequered flag were funny.

    1. I was chuckling.

    2. @jerejj he was going for first

  2. I think we need to count the toys that were still in the pram… :)

    Makes the Merc swap look extremely tame.

  3. I don’t see his issue. He was let past to go catch a driver ahead which he failed to do. Seems like the standard swap agreement to me.

    1. his issue was that the only reason ocon got ahead was cause of the undercut and he wasn’t informed beforehand that he would have to give the position back to ocon.

      1. @lucifer And also that he had fresher tyres, so thinks he could have easily passed Ocon without orders if he needed to. They just used team orders to save him time. But anyway, Gasly’s reaction seemed way ott for the sake of one point. He could have quietly made his point behind closed doors after the race rather than making a public issue of it. I think the competitiveness between the two Alpine drivers is going to boil over at some point because they are both extremely tetchy when things go against them.

  4. Without team orders Gasly was catching Ocon and would have passed him easily with fresher tyres probably on lap 48 or 49. Maybe Ocons side of the garage wanted to make it look like they went out of their way to slow down and let Gasly through to “earn” the right to be let back past at the end. Also Gasly was too far back to catch Alonso so team orders really didn’t seem worthwhile.

  5. This is very very silly from Alpine. Gasly was 6 secs ahead at the final lap and they still asked him to stop. Must be very frustrating. This team lacks a proper team principal who brings everyone together.

    1. Gasly wasn’t 6 secs ahead, but 2.5 seconds ahead. That’s the first thing.
      Second, even before the initial swap, Gasly was not making enough gains on Ocon, I believe he cooked his tyres too early. At the beginning of the stint, Gasly was gaining about a second per lap, which surely was good enough to easily get passed. However, as the stint progressed, Gasly’s pace dropped, so he was gaining about 0.2s-0.5s. That’s less convincing, especially since Ocon had to look after his tyres because his stint was longer, and possibly saved some more life in them. What’s more, passing wasn’t that easy – Alonso had 10 laps younger tyres, and was unable to pass Ocon on the track. Gasly had just 6 laps younger tyres, and he had the same car/engine. How difficult it could be for such combination, look at Mercedes – Hamilton was gaining 0.5s-1s per lap before he caught Russell, and he got passed only because of the team order. And we’re talking about draggy car, for which DRS helps more.

  6. Who could have ever predicted that the Ocon and Gasly combination would prove to be thin skinned? Oh yeah. Literally everyone except Alpine management.

    1. They’re better off this way. Imagine how much worse it’d be if they had those other guys, Alonso and Piastri.

      1. @Dog-y
        Big ouch

  7. Whether the order was ridiculous or not, Gasly has always acted like a petulant, whiny teenager. I cannot the amount of times he’s abused his teams on the radio or complained about something that was his fault. He’s always had a talent for inexplicable moves that ruin his and other drivers’ races. Even when he was driving dangerously fast during a safety car and came within 10 feet of a recovery vehicle and its workers, none of it was his fault.

    1. @Nick T.
      While you’re not wrong, I don’t mind inconsiderate or selfish radio rants that much and don’t hold it against a driver. A considerable amount of brain-space is occupied with actual driving, the leftovers need to deal with tension being high, communicating not their first language in most cases, add fatigue and pressure to deliver AND the fact they always watch the race from their own perspective lacking overview.
      It would be bad if they still hold the same views after a day or two, after the race has been reviewed. But that rarely happens I feel. It’s mostly a heat of the moment thing.
      I think for me the winner is still Vettel with his message to Charlie :-D

    2. Yes, this. Gasly has never understood that you need to “play the game”, especially in public, while Ocon certainly does.

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