Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer has sensationally called for the FIA to “look” into allowing teams a “third car”, following Esteban Ocon’s absence from qualifying at the Miami Grand Prix.
Ocon crashed heavily during FP3 in Miami, leaving his team with insufficient time to fix the Frenchman’s cracked chassis.
The Alpine driver was lucky to walk away from the crash unharmed, having crashed at 51G into a concrete barrier.
Prior to Ocon’s crash, Carlos Sainz hit the same barrier at Turn 14 the day before.
Teams asked the FIA to fit a Tecpro barrier to stop drivers crashing into the uncovered concrete, the FIA refused.
Szafnauer is confident that had there been a Tecpro barrier, the corner would’ve been much safer.
“In my personal opinion it would have been safer if there had been a Tecpro,” said Szafnauer, as quoted by Motorsport.com.
“It’s not the job of the FIA to protect the cars, but the protection of drivers and cars is intertwined. If the car is damaged, the driver can also be injured.”
With only a couple of hours between FP3 and qualifying, Alpine didn’t have the time to repair Ocon’s car, resulting in a back of the grid start for the Frenchman.
Incredibly, Ocon recovered superbly to finish the race in eighth, bringing home some good points in the process.
Ocon’s absence from qualifying has led to Szafnauer demanding that the FIA look into the return of a spare car, which would’ve allowed Ocon to take part in the session.
“We should look again at the presence of a third car,” Szafnauer continued.
“We used to have a T-car. I don’t think we should go back to that T-car completely because then you would need extra people.
“If the car is built with the same parts that you already have it on the track, you are more likely to have it ready for qualifying.”
The T-car was banned from the sport in 2008 as a way of reducing costs.
The car was taken to every Grand Prix and had its own separate team of mechanics, who made sure it’s set-up matched the number one car should it suddenly be needed.
It worked similar to what happens in MotoGP; should a driver crash they simply returned to the pits, jumped in the spare car and continued with the session.
With running costs being as high as they are in Formula 1, it’s unlikely a spare car will be introduced anytime soon.