When Alpine instructed Esteban Ocon to “slow down” to help his teammate Fernando Alonso who had incurred a time penalty, Ocon defied team orders saying he “can’t do it” because he didn’t want to risk losing positions.
Fernando Alonso was ninth in the Miami Grand Prix heading into the final laps, ahead of Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon.
The two-time world champion, on the other hand, was facing a five-second penalty for his dive-bomb on AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly and needed his team-mate to hold up the Williams in order to give him that extra five seconds.
Ocon defied the team at first, stating it was “impossible.”
“I can’t do it!” the Alpine driver said when the team engineer requested him to slow the cars behind for his teammate Fernando Alonso who had been handed a time penalty.
“They’re going to overtake me if I do that! I can’t let myself down, guys, it’s not possible, I say it.”
Whether he eventually assisted or found a burst of speed, Alonso crossed the line 5.237s ahead of Albon, meaning he only lost one position, P8, to his own team-mate.
Hours later, though, it was revealed that Alonso had been given yet another five-second penalty, this time for obtaining an advantage off the track. Ocon finished eighth, ahead of Albon and Lance Stroll.
The driver and Alpine have not commented on the in-race team orders, while Motorsport.com reports that he “eventually agreed” to assist his teammate. Given how Alonso assisted him in the Hungarian Grand Prix last year, it’s only fair.
With Ocon on the verge of a stunning triumph, Alonso put in one of his best-ever defensive drives to hold off Lewis Hamilton, giving his team-mate breathing room in his quest for his maiden victory.
“Congrats to Fernando, because I think the win is also thanks to him with the fights that he did. It’s teamwork, all that. I think it’s been a fantastic day,” Ocon said after the race victory.
However, Ocon and Alonso went wheel-to-wheel many times in the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix early this season, indicating that last year’s friendly assists had come to an end. When it came to taking each other out, the teammates danced a delicate line, neither ready to concede an inch.