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Formula 1

Ocon hits out at 'hurtful and damaging statements' after Monaco drama

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
4 min read

Under-fire Alpine Formula 1 driver Esteban Ocon has taken to social media to defend himself and express regret over the "abuse and negativity" that followed his Monaco Grand Prix collision with Pierre Gasly.

Ocon sent a lunge down the inside of Gasly coming through Portier on the opening lap of the soon-to-be-red-flagged race, leading to contact as his Alpine was bounced into the air.

Gasly's track position wasn't compromised despite the severity of the contact, and while a red-flag stoppage seemed to give Ocon the chance to regain the places he lost, his A524 sustained gearbox damage that made continuing impossible.

Team principal Bruno Famin was fuming after the incident in a widely-circulated live pitwall interview with French broadcaster Canal+, threatening "consequences" and naming Ocon as the guilty party - while Gasly, who went on to finish 10th and score a point for an Alpine team desperately in need of points, intimated after the race that Ocon had broken a pre-race agreement to maintain track position.

Famin's answer, plus some varying translations of the exact language he used, proved fertile ground to speculation that Ocon may be stood down for the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix.

In a statement released on Friday (the full text of which can be found below), Ocon appeared to hit out at said speculation - or at least the assessments of his conduct - while re-asserting his position for the Montreal round.

He indirectly referenced his reputation as a difficult team-mate, borne out of past clashes with Sergio Perez at Force India/Racing Point and Fernando Alonso at Alpine, saying that team-mates starting "very close to each other" naturally created "some tough battles on track, and sometimes contact".

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, Force India, F1

Ocon reiterated he took responsibility for the Monaco accident, but seemingly disputed Gasly's version of events by saying that he has "always followed instructions I've been given".

The 27-year-old is all but certain to leave the Alpine team - for which he's raced since 2020 when it was still Renault - at the end of the year, but should have other suitors in F1.

Ocon's full statement

"Much has been said in the aftermath of the Monaco Grand Prix.

"While I have received many messages of support, I have been deeply saddened by the amount of abuse and negativity that I have received online regarding my character, my driving and my career.

"Thanks to the hard work, support and sacrifices of many people, I've raced in over 140 grands prix so far since my debut in 2016. I have always been a tough competitor, and, like most drivers, I've had my share of incidents.

"I have been lucky to race alongside talented and experienced team-mates, including race winners Daniel [Ricciardo], Checo [Perez] and Pierre, and a double champion in Fernando [Alonso].

Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, Alpine, F1

"As team-mates, we would often start races very close to each other, which in some cases meant some tough battles on track, and sometimes contact.

"Of course, I have made honest mistakes. We are not robots; we are athletes pushing ourselves to the limit every day to achieve our dreams of winning races. F1 is a sport where emotions run high, and passions run deep. I see and feel this every weekend at the track and on social media... the good and the bad.

"But the misinformed statements and gross distortions that I have seen online in recent days about my ability to work with a team have been inaccurate, hurtful and damaging.

"Since my first laps in motorsport, I have approached this sport with humility, professionalism and respect. These values were instilled in me from a very young age.

"While each driver chases individual glory, this will always be a team sport first and foremost. I have always followed the instructions I have been given and raced to achieve the maximum for and with my team.

"I took responsibility for the incident on lap one last Sunday and, despite my DNF, I am glad the team added a point to the tally in what has been a difficult start to the season for all of us. I respect Pierre as a team-mate and as a competitor. We have always worked collaboratively and professionally inside the team, and this will continue to be the case.

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, Alpine, F1

"There is no reward without risk in Formula 1 - and race starts are intense, even more so in Monaco, where the opening lap can dictate your finishing result. In the end, we are all competitors and hard, fair racing throughout the field is what makes our sport so great and the main reason why I love this sport so much.

"I'm looking forward to competing in Montreal, in front of the fantastic Canadian fans, and to the exciting opportunities the future holds."

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