Told by Alpine to “slow down” to build a gap to help his penalised team-mate, Esteban Ocon told the team that he “can’t do it” as he didn’t want to risk losing positions himself.
Heading into the final laps of the Miami Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso was running in eighth place ahead of Ocon and Alex Albon.
The Spaniard, though, was facing a five-second penalty for his dive-bomb on Pierre Gasly and therefore needed his team-mate to hold up the Williams to get him that five-second of breathing room.
Ocon initially defied the team, saying it was “not possible”.
Engineer: We need a margin of seconds for Fernando, who has a penalty, slow down the cars behind, please. Do it now, please do it now.
Ocon: I can’t do it!
Engineer: Esteban, stop the cars.
Ocon: They’re going to overtake me if I do that! I can’t let myself down, guys, it’s not possible, I say it.
Whether he did eventually help or Alonso found a burst of speed, the Spaniard crossed the line 5.237s ahead of Albon meaning he only lost one position, P8, to his own team-mate.
Lunging up the inside of Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri and causing contact, Fernando Alonso admitted he was in the wrong at the Miami Grand Prix.https://t.co/RskdFRAk7U #MiamiGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/3MhPsE7BwW
— PlanetF1 (@Planet_F1) May 9, 2022
However, hours later it emerged that Alonso had another five-second penalty, this one for gaining an advantage off the track. He dropped to P11, Ocon finishing eight ahead of Albon and Lance Stroll.
Neither the driver nor Alpine have commented on those in-race team orders with Motorsport.com saying he did “later agree” to help his team-mate.
Only fair given how Alonso helped him at last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
With Ocon on course for a shock victory, Alonso put in one of his best-ever drives to defend against Lewis Hamilton, holding the Mercedes up to give his team-mate breathing room in his quest for his first win.
Ocon said at the time: “Congrats to Fernando, because I think the win is also thanks to him with the fights that he did. It’s teamwork, all that. I think it’s been a fantastic day.”
There were however signs earlier this season already that last year’s playing nice is over with Ocon and Alonso going wheel-to-wheel several times in the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix.
The team-mates walked a fine line when it came to taking one another out, neither willing to give an inch.
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