Pierre Gasly was unhappy with being ordered to switch places with Esteban Ocon on the final lap of the Japanese Grand Prix because he was faster than his Alpine team-mate, but Ocon insists that given the circumstances , this statement is “irrelevant”.
Ocon and Gasly finished ninth and 10th respectively on the final row at Suzuka, trying to leave Aston Martin Racing’s Fernando Alonso in front.
Seeking to take advantage of Gasly’s fresher tires and faster pace, Alpine asked Ocon to wave his team-mate through so he could try to catch Alonso and succeed where Ocon had failed.
But Gasly also failed in his efforts to overhaul the Spaniard, forcing the Alpine pits to ask him to hand his position back to Ocon on the final lap of the race, a request that infuriated Gasly.
“Wait, what the hell, man? You’re kidding me,” he told race engineer Karel Los. “What are you talking about? I’m faster. My tires are fresher. I’m going to pass him no matter what.”
Loos responded that the matter would be resolved after the game.
“Exchange, please,” he said. “We don’t have to say anything now, we’ll discuss it later.”
An angry Gasly continued to dispute the call, but eventually agreed, concluding with a clear: “Thank you, it’s a complete joke.”
Ocon defended Alpine’s decision not because he was the beneficiary of it but because it followed the protocol that Enstone had always practiced.
“I’ve been with the team for four years and the rule has always been – me and Fernando (Alonso) – if a driver swaps positions, so in this case I gave the position to Pierre, he needs to get the front You have to keep your position, otherwise, you give it back to your teammates,” O’Connell explained.
“That’s what we’ve always done and if I were on the other side I would obviously do the same thing but I prefer to fight on track. I’m more of an old-school guy and would never ask in order to switch positions.
“But I understand the team’s point of view, they were trying to get more positions, get Fernando and get more points but unfortunately we didn’t get that.
“I think we maximized our potential because there were no more chances.”
For Ocon, Gasly’s claim that he is faster and therefore should keep the position is not “relevant”.
“It doesn’t matter because you need to fight for your position on the track until we can get to the pace we want and if you don’t take action you never know who will be prompted (asked to move to the side) ),”He said.
“Before that, I was leading so obviously we will talk as a team and see what we can do better, but if you look at Fernando’s Brazil in 2021 and Daniel (Ricciardo)’s Sochi , the situation is the same.
“I gave the position to Daniel and Fernando. I know this has always been the order from the team and I’m not surprised.”
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