Otmar Szafnauer makes surprising comment about Esteban Ocon’s aggression

Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso collided twice at the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix, resulting in a discussion with Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi.

Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer wants to see Esteban Ocon making “better judgements” in 2023 alongside new team-mate Pierre Gasly, with the Romanian-American being concerned seemingly about the Frenchman’s aggression.

The Enstone-based outfit enjoyed a mixed 2022 campaign, which saw the team claim fourth in the Constructors’ Championship despite what seemed like endless power unit-based reliability issues.

It wasn’t just reliability issues that Alpine had to deal with, with Ocon and Fernando Alonso having also caused their own problems.

The duo clashed several times last season and battled each other much harder than team-mates are supposed to, to the extent where they collided twice on the opening lap of the sprint race in Brazil.

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With that in mind, Szafnauer wants Ocon to seemingly make better decisions going forward.

“He needs to probably make better judgements when his teammates are next to him,” Szafnauer said.

“You don’t win it on the first lap, teammate or not.

“If you’re aggressive against a competitor and you both go out, you both lose,” explained Szafnauer.

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“If you’re aggressive against the teammate and you both go out, guess who loses? So it’s just that better judgement, and get them later.”

Despite questioning Ocon’s judgement, especially against team-mates, Szafnauer did also praise the Frenchman for maturing.

Whilst the 26-year-old still has “some areas” to work on, Szafnauer used Ocon’s defensive display against Lewis Hamilton at Suzuka last year as an example of his maturing driving style.

“I think it was even more impressive for me in wet/drying conditions in Suzuka, not an easy track to drive, with Lewis [Hamilton] behind you in a quicker car the entire time, and you finish ahead of him.

“So he’s matured. He’s got better from that regard. And he is fast. Can he make improvements? Yeah, we will work on getting him better in some areas.”

Szafnauer’s first season as team boss of Alpine was on the whole a successful one, with the former Aston Martin team principal having begun the process of getting the team to work in a manner of his choosing.

He explained how introducing upgrades faster was the “first” thing he worked on when he joined the French outfit, something which helped the A522 improve throughout the season.

“One of the big things I did when I first got here was look at how long it takes us to bring upgrades to the track,” he commented.

“It took us a long time, longer than I was used to at other places.

“We had just a bit of a subgroup to look at how we could do things differently, release things a little bit earlier from the tunnel and start some of the engineering work early.

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“One of the big things was to be able to bring floors in almost half the time. I think we had four different versions of the floor and you have to bring five of each one of those [to the race].

“It’s a big component, takes a long time from finding it in the wind tunnel to delivering it on track. If you can squeeze that, you can bring four instead of two upgrades and you’re better off.

“That was one thing we did well this year. And I think because of it, you saw the car did improve from where we started.”