Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer was furious with the team's drivers Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso after the pair clashed twice on the opening lap of the Brazilian GP sprint race, with dire consequences.
Ocon started from sixth pace on the grid with Alonso right behind him in seventh. They ran through the first three corners wheel-to-wheel before Alonso attempted to go around the outside of Ocon at the exit of turn 4.
Ocon forced Alonso wide in a move that was reviewed by the race stewards who decided that no action was needed on their part. But moments later the pair made contact again.
This time Alonso tried a move around the outside of the fast left lander turn 15 at pit entry, and contact resulted in damage to Alonso's front wing forcing him to come in for repairs.
“Far from ideal when you touch in the first lap in a sprint race," said a still fuming Alonso. "The race is too short to really overcome the deficit of the pitstop."
Ocon also sustained damage and dropped out of the points over the ensuing laps. His car then caught fire in parc ferme due to a suspected oil leak meaning the team might have to break parc ferme rules with overnight repairs.
That could force Ocon to start tomorrow's race from pit lane. And the news was little better for Alonso, who finished in 15th place but was subsequently slapped with a five second penalty for causing the second collision with Ocon. He is set to start from P18, depending on what happens with Ocon.
“I had no idea this happened,” Ocon told the media after the race when asked about the second collision. “I got told now. I don't know how that's possible."
Ocon was quick to refute Alonso's angry comments blaming the Frenchman for forcing him wide in the early clash. "I was in the front, so the one fighting is not me really. I was trying to attack the McLaren into 4.
“I guess it's a race and we are trying to get the most out of everything, but today has been costly," he admitted.
Alpine is currently locked in a battle to the wire with McLaren for fourth place in the constructors championship. Alpine were just five points ahead coming into the weekend and can't afford to have both cars fail to score tomorrow.
No wonder their boss was less than happy with the pair of them.
“We are extremely disappointed with today’s sprint qualifying result, which has put us in a worse position on the grid for tomorrow’s main race,” Szafnauer declared
“We are in a very tight and competitive championship fight for fourth place in the constructors championship, an objective for which over 1,000 staff are tirelessly working and striving towards.
"Frankly, both Esteban and Fernando must do a better job to compliment the fantastic efforts of everyone in the team by avoiding on-track incidents and compromising the entire team’s performance.
“Today both drivers have let the team down," he stated. "I expect more from them tomorrow where we must do everything we can to recover some points from the weekend for the championship.”
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