Esteban Ocon placed the blame for his crash in qualifying for today’s sprint race wholly at the feet of his rival Fernando Alonso.
Ocon was on a flying lap at the time and tangled with Alonso, who had pulled to the right to let him by. The Aston Martin driver was moving towards the racing line at the moment the pair collided, but Ocon also drifted towards his rival after his car got out of shape at the exit kerb of turn two.
Following the contact Ocon’s Alpine made heavy contact with the barrier. “It was a big one,” he said afterwards. “It was a hard impact. I’m feeling a bit sore obviously after that one but it doesn’t matter we’ll go on racing.”
He was frustrated by the collision as he believes he was on course to progress to the next phase of qualifying. “It’s a difficult one to swallow because we were on for a good improvement on that lap we were going to go through in SQ2,” said Ocon.
“But we found Fernando in the way. I heard people saying I lost the car, it’s not true. We had corrections like that throughout the whole paddock, even on Lando [Norris’] quickest lap he had a correction there and ran wide like this.
“Fernando steered to the left in the middle of the corner and didn’t leave enough space and we collided. But in the end it doesn’t matter about that, that’s something that happened, obviously we will now go on and focus on the race.”
The stewards are investigating the incident and summoned both drivers to speak to them. “He was trying to counteract all the arguments, saying he left enough space but reality is if Fernando is not there on the right we don’t collide,” said Ocon.
Alonso said the collision was a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. “Unfortunately we could not complete the qualifying,” he said. “It’s a shame – both cars out of qualifying now, a lot of damage on both cars I guess. So not the way we wanted.
“I didn’t see the replay yet. Someone told me that he lost the car, apparently, a little bit. One of those situations – wrong place, wrong moment.”
Alpine say they are “confident” they will be able to repair Ocon’s car in time for him to take part in the sprint race at 3:30pm local time.
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