Otmar Szafnauer has warned Esteban Ocon not to fight too hard with his new team-mate Pierre Gasly on track, as on-track clashes have the potential to see the BWT Alpine F1 Team lose out.
Ocon has a history of moments against team-mates during his FIA Formula 1 World Championship career, with clashes with Sergio Pérez whilst they were team-mates at the Racing Point Formula 1 Team and, more recently, incidents against Fernando Alonso at Alpine.
Rumours about a long-time rift between Ocon and Gasly have been rife ever since the latter was confirmed to replace Alonso for the 2023 season, although both drivers have subsequently laughed this off.
Team Principal Szafnauer insists that Ocon will be reminded that it is a team game should he battle too hard against his new team-mate, and it will only be the team that loses out should they collide.
“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,” Szafnauer is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com.
“And if you’re aggressive against a competitor, and you both go out, you both lose. If you’re aggressive against the team-mate, and you both go out, guess who loses? So it’s just that better judgement, and get them later.
“If we need reminders, I’m happy to remind him.”
Szafnauer, however, was very complimentary about the way Ocon drove at times during the 2022 season, with the defensive drive against Lewis Hamilton in the wet Japanese Grand Prix in particular being highlighted.
Ocon finished a season’s best fourth at the Suzuka International Racing Course, holding off the obviously quicker Hamilton for lap after lap, a performance that Szafnauer called brilliant.
“There were other times where we thought, ‘oh no, the performance isn’t there’, and then he pulled it out. So really, really good for him,” said Szafnauer.
“But yeah, Suzuka stands out to me. That was amazing! Lewis [Hamilton], in a Mercedes, very good in the wet, changeable conditions, drying conditions, driving in your mirrors all time, Lewis was in the faster car.
“I mean, just look where [Mercedes] finished the championship. And he held him off. Brilliant.”