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Esteban Ocon’s Career At Alpine

Following a collision between Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, the team have decided to let go of their long-time serving driver Ocon.

Yesterday, Alpine and Esteban Ocon announced that by mutual agreement, Ocon would be leaving the team at the end of the 2024 season. Th꧋is decision has come off the back of a very dramatic Monaco Grand Prix for 💧the Alpine team in particular. Alpine drivers Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly collided on lap 1 of the race. Ocon who was largely condemned for his actions that day retired from the race.

Initially, there were speculations that Ocon would be dropped for the Canadian Grand Prix as punishment. However, the team later came out and confirmed that they would not be doing so. With doubts about Ocon’s future at the team started swirling about, the news is now official. .

Ocon has ben with the team for many years now, consistently performing well. Therefore, it has come as a shock to some that he is leaving. Here, we will look at Ocon’s career at Alpine, a team he has been part of since their Renault days.

A shallow pocket and a money-hungry sport

Est🐟eban Ocon started competing in Formula 1 in 2016, after struggles of getting into the sport due to lack of funding. The young Frenchman who had a great record in his junior career was part of the Mercedes-Benz Junior Driver Program. He drove for Mercedes-Benz in the first ten races of the 2016 DTM season, alongside his F1 reserve driver role at Renault.

Halfway through the 2016 season, he was called up by the Manor racing team t🔯o replace Rio Haryanto in the final 9 races of the 2016 F1 season. In 2017, he joined Force India (now Aston Martin) driving alongsi🃏de Mexican driver Sergio Perez through to 2018.

Ocon found himself without a drive✅ for the 2019 season due to sponsorship and financial constraints. Despite being linked with several teams, including Renault, he had to settle for a reserve and test driver role with Mercedes for that season.

A second chance and a second-place finish

Ocon’s time spent as a reserve driver allowed him to secure a full-time drive with Renault (now Alpine F1 Team) for the 2020 Formula 1 season. Renault had two new drivers for the 2020 season, as they had also signed Daniel Ricciardo who had just left Red Bull at the end of the 2019 season.

Ricciardo had more experience th💧an his new teammate in the sport and was largely considered a top driveꦅr during his 5 years at Red Bull. However, Ocon who had struggled to find his foot in a sport where money talks and had less experience was able to stay close to the Australian.

Ricciardo might have out-qualified Ocon 15 -2, but . Ricciardo also had the upper hand in race results with 13-4, however, both drivers enjoyed the podium. The Australian’s best finish was a P3, while the Frenchman’s best finish was a P2. Ocon’s P2 was his first podium ever in his F1 career, at the Sakhir Grand Prix.

Ocon finished his first season back in F1 in P12 of the Drivers’ Championship, 57 points behind his teammate.

A maiden win

Renault rebranded as Alp🌞ine F1 Team for the 2021 season and signed Fernan♑do Alonso in replacement of Daniel Ricciardo who had left for McLaren. Despite being paired alongside a 2-time World Champion, Esteban Ocon performed superbly in comparison. Alonso and Ocon were pretty evenly matched on race days, with their head-to-head results being 11-10.

At the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix, it was Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton who got pole position. However, rainy conditions at the start of the race led to a first-lap incident caused by the other Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas. Bottas who misjudged his braking hit the back of Lando Norris’ McLaren leading to five eliminated drivers.

At the race restart, Hamilton led the pack ahead of Esteban Ocon and Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin. Hamilton being the only driver who chose not to pit for slick tyres at the end of the formation lap saw him drop to last when he pitted a lap later. Ocon, the new race leader was handed the opportunity of a lifetime. Ocon was able to hold back 4-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel in the latter stages of the race.

At the end of the race, . B🍎ehind him was Vettel (who was later disqualified) an🔥d Hamilton who had a great recovery drive from the back of the pack.

Esteban Ocon’s win was not only special as it was his first. It was also special because it was Alpine’s first race victory since their rebranding, and their only race win to date. Even more special is that it was Renault’s first win since the 2008 Japanese Grand Prix which Fernando Alonso won.

Ocon finished the 2021 season P11 in the Drivers’ Championship, one position and 7 points behind Alonso.

 A better finish than a 2-time World Champion

Alonso and Ocon remained teammates at Alpine for the 2022 F1 season. This time, Ocon had the upper hand in terms of race results, with their head-to-head results being 12-9. Ocon’s best result that year was a P4 at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Ocon finished the 2022 season P8 in the Drivers’ Championship, 1 position and 11 points ahead of Alonso.

An all-French team

Alonso signed for Aston Martin ahead of the 2023 season. Alpine had first announced that they would be announcing Oscar Piastri as the Spaniard’s replacement. However, in a shocking turn of events, the move was declined by the young Australian who instead signed for McLaren. Alpine instead signed Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly to drive alongside Esteban Ocon in 2023.

The two Frenchmen had shared many years together in the motorsports world. All the way from karting all the way to Formula 1. However, what was making the rounds in the media was that there would be tension in the team as the two drivers have been rumoured to dislike each other for years. As the two have collided a few teams since then, with the most recent incident being at the last race – Monaco GP – there definitely is some tension.

In terms of performance, the two have been at par with each other. In 2023, their head-to-head race results were 11-10 in favour of Gasly. The two both had P3 finishes that season, Gasly’s at Zaandvort and Ocon’s at Monaco.

Ocon finished P12 in the 2023 Drivers’ Championship, 1 position and 4 points behind Gasly.

As for the 2024 season, Alpine have had a particularly difficult start to the season. Currently one of the two slowest teams on the grid, both Ocon and Gasly have struggled to achieve positive results for Alpine. At Monaco however, they had great qualifying results, with Gasly in P10 and Ocon in P11. The two unfortunately collided on lap 1, leading to Ocon’s retirement. Fortunately for the team though, Gasly went on to finish the race in P10.

As it stands, Ocon is leading their head-to-head results with 6-2, with each drive𒆙r having P10 as their best finish.

A disadvantage for whom?

Since joining the team iಌn 2020, Esteban Ocon has b𓄧een largely consistent. Whenever the car under him has allowed him to, Ocon has delivered good results for Alpine (and Renault).

There is🌠 no do✱ubt that Alpine will be losing a great driver. However, where Ocon ends up next could determine who has lost out more from this decision.

In 2020, competing as Renault, they were P5 in the Constructors’ Championship, closely behind Racing Point (now Aston Martin). When they rebranded to Alpine in 2021, it was P5 again for the French team. In 2022, they were P4, bettering McLaren. Alpine then fell off to P6 in 2023, behind McLaren and Aston Martin respectively.

Now in 2024, Alpine have massively dropped down. They now find themselves in P9 with only 2 champions🐷hip points. Below them is Kick Sauber Ferrar🦋i with 0 points.

Ocon has history with Mercedes and a great relationship with their team principal Toto Wolff. Seeing as there is an empty seat in the Brackley team with Lewis Hamilton moving to Ferrari for 2025, an opportunity could arise for Ocon. Should the Frenchman move to Mercedes, Alpine will lose out more than Ocon. Mercedes may not be title f🍎ighters anymore. But they are however still a top team, w🤪ith the potential to return to the top, especially in 2026 when the new regulations come into play.

There are open seats at Haas, and Stake Sauber/Audi, other options for Ocon. Haas have been on a slow but upward trajectory these past few years. Therefore, it may not be a daunting move for Ocon. Stake Sauber/Audi on the other hand will be like flipping a coin. A new team in the sport could present unique challenges. It may prove to be a good choice for Ocon, but it could also be quite♔ negative.

As for Alpine, they have options✃ in their reserve driver Jack Dooha♉n and Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz. There is also Mercedes and McLaren reserve driver Mick Schumacher and Kick Sauber driver Zhou Guanyu.

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