Esteban Ocon sends warning to his new team-mate

Esteban Ocon is set to be partnered by Pierre Gasly at Alpine next season.

Last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix was nothing short of a disaster for Alpine, as both Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon were forced to retire with a power unit failure.

Ocon’s failure was much more dramatic than his double World Champion team-mate, with his A522 releasing the usual giant cloud of smoke, signalling a power unit failure.

Not only does the double power unit failure for Alpine mean that both Alonso and Ocon are likely going to have to take grid penalties at an upcoming race, the double-DNF also saw the French side drop behind McLaren.

The battle for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship has been riveting, with Alpine and McLaren having switched places throughout the year.

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Prior to Singapore, Alpine were starting to build a gap to the Woking-based team, with 18 points having been separating them ahead of the race.

McLaren capitalised on Alpine’s Singapore woes with a double top five finish, as Lando Norris finished fourth with Daniel Ricciardo in fifth.

This saw a 22-point swing in the standings, with McLaren now leading Alpine by four points ahead of the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend.

Outgoing Alpine driver Alonso labelled the double-DNF as “unacceptable”, as he now looks ahead to his final five races as a driver for the French team.

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It has been reported that Pierre Gasly could be announced as his replacement this weekend, with Nyck de Vries also expected to be announced as the Frenchman’s replacement at AlphaTauri.

Ocon isn’t trying to get distracted by the team’s 2023 line-up, potentially because himself and Gasly aren’t on good terms.

The pair have been rivals for a few years now, with ex-F1 driver Ralf Schumacher believing it to be because Gasly ‘stole’ Ocon’s girlfriend.

The Alpine driver has admitted that doing “my job” is his priority, but that he wants whoever his new team-mate is to know that he is “the most experienced driver in the team”.

“It’s not something I’m paying much attention to,” Ocon said at an event for Alpine in Tokyo ahead of the Japanese GP.

“The main thing is to do my job, as before, which means leading the team in the development of the car and giving them my feedback. It’s what I’m already doing.

“Whoever comes will find that I am the most experienced driver in the team, I know the team better. But I also know that the team will choose the right team-mate.”

Following Singapore, Alonso hit out that Alpine’s reliability problems have cost him 60 points this season, with the Spaniard currently on just 59 points.

Ocon defended his team over the reliability gremlins and explained the team are “going in the right direction”.

“We don’t want it to happen obviously, but the whole grid has problems,” he said.

“It’s a fact that these regulations force you to take risks to have the most competitive car, which is after all the most important thing.

“However, we have been working on being more reliable and I think we are going in the right direction.”

Losing Alonso to Aston Martin is going to be a huge blow to the Enstone-based team, with the 41-year-old being not only the most experienced driver on the grid but also one of the best.

Ocon is certain that the team will continue to improve without Alonso, who made his 350th start last weekend.

“For sure,” Ocon said.

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“I am really convinced that we can keep moving forward, as we are doing right now with Fernando in the team.

“Fernando is going to another team and we have to accept it – that’s how it is. But we know that we can achieve the goal that we have set for ourselves.

“I’m going to miss Fernando personally when he’s gone, but it will still be fun to keep racing against him.”