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Alpine: Ocon has to make "better judgements" racing team-mate

Alpine Formula 1 boss Otmar Szafnauer has cautioned that Esteban Ocon has to make “better judgements” when racing wheel-to-wheel with his own team-mate.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522, Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522

Szafnauer worked with Ocon at Force India/Racing Point in 2017-18, when the Frenchman was involved in several controversial clashes with Sergio Perez.

Last season at Alpine there were moments of tension between Ocon and Fernando Alonso, notably at Interlagos, where they collided on the first lap of the sprint.

That led to both men getting a talking to from the team management. Szafnauer hopes that Ocon has learned from the experience and that there won’t be a repeat this year with new partner Pierre Gasly.

"He needs to probably make better judgements when his team mates are next to him, because you don't win it on the first lap, team mate or not," he said of Ocon.

"And if you're aggressive against a competitor, and you both go out, you both lose. 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."

Asked if that had been made clear to Ocon, Szafnauer added: "It was. If we need reminders, I'm happy to remind him."

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A522, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A522

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Having been reunited with him last season after a three-year gap, Szafnauer acknowledged that Ocon has improved overall as a driver.

He cited Ocon’s 2021 Hungarian GP victory, achieved under intense pressure from Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel as an example, as well with his fourth place – chased by Lewis Hamilton – in last year’s Japanese GP.

"He's definitely more mature," said the American. "He's got a better understanding. I think the thing that really pleases me about Esteban is that under pressure, he often does not make a mistake. I've seen it with him when he won against Vettel. I was there, we had a faster car. And he did not make a mistake.

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"He placed his car, driving in his mirrors in the right place, not one mistake, to take the win. I think it was even more impressive for me in wet conditions, drying in Suzuka, not an easy track to drive, with Lewis behind you, in a quicker car the entire time, and you finish ahead of him.

"That to me is impressive. 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."

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