Alpine axe may cost Ocon his entire F1 career – driver

Wed, 5 June 2024, 09:31

Jun.5 (GMM) Esteban Ocon could find himself without a Formula 1 seat in 2025.

Rumours linking the Frenchman with a move from struggling Alpine to Haas were already swirling when he enraged team boss Bruno Famin with his first-lap crash with teammate Pierre Gasly in Monaco.

Days later, Alpine announced that Ocon, 27, will be leaving the Enstone based team at the end of the year.

L’Equipe in France even reports that Famin wanted to ‘bench’ Ocon for this weekend’s Canadian GP in retaliation for the Monaco incident – with the move only vetoed by reluctant Renault contract lawyers.

But given his earlier teammate clashes in the pre-Gasly days, and amid his existing reputation as a particularly self-centred driver, teams up and down pitlane are apparently nervous about snapping up the available Ocon for 2025.

“It will cost Esteban heavily as no front-running team would entertain that kind of mentality, or even perhaps any team,” Sky UK commentator Martin Brundle said.

Fellow former F1 driver, Giedo van der Garde, agrees that Ocon’s name is now increasingly toxic.

“There were rumblings in the (Alpine) team for some time,” the Dutchman said on his DRS De Race Show podcast. “He has been there for a while and the collaboration with Gasly is simply going very badly.

“He is a difficult boy to work with,” van der Garde added. “He is very fast, but he is also sometimes someone who draws blood from under your nails. And a team like that doesn’t want that.

“As a team, you want a team player. And he is only concerned with himself, because he is a heavy egoist.”

Experienced drivers including Sergio Perez and Fernando Alonso have been similarly scathing of Ocon’s methods in the past “and that is now costing him his head”, van der Garde predicts.

“He is grumpy, he is always angry, he is always preoccupied with himself. That only brings unrest. He is not being sent off for nothing.”

Ocon has also been linked with Sauber in the event that Carlos Sainz opts against the newly Audi-owned team, but van der Garde even thinks Haas may say no to the 2021 Hungarian GP winner.

“Of course he can talk to Haas now to get a seat there, but I think they are also now scratching their heads,” he said. “I think it will be very difficult for him to get a job anywhere.”

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