Esteban Ocon rubbishes claims Doohan’s FP1 drive is punishment for Monaco crash

Esteban Ocon rubbishes claims Doohan's FP1 drive is punishment for Monaco crash

Esteban Ocon has refuted claims that Jack Doohan’s drive in this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix comes as a punishment for his crash with teammate Pierre Gasly.

Esteban Ocon has denied claims that the reason Alpine handed his seat to reserve driver Jack Doohan for the Canadian Grand Prix FP1 was to serve as punishment for his crash with teammate Pierre Gasly in Monaco.

This comes after Ocon and Alpine announced earlier this week that they would be parting ways at the end of the current season, although it is believed that they had reached a mutual agreement long before the Monaco Grand Prix.

In the aftermath of the first-lap incident involving Ocon and Pierre Gasly in Monaco, Alpine team principal Bruno Famin addressed the situation in an interview with French broadcaster Canal+ and threatened the Frenchman with “consequences.”

Alpine’s announcement on Wednesday that Doohan would take Ocon’s seat for Friday’s first practice was therefore instantly perceived to be a punishment. However, the 27-year old refuted the claims in an interview on Thursday in Montreal.

“I’ve seen some various talking things about obviously Jack coming as a punishment or something but it’s not the case,” Ocon told Sky.

“We’ve decided that it was a good time, with my penalty, that the track [is] obviously quite green in the beginning, and that I had to give an FP1 this year.

“So we’ve done that here and I hope that Jack can provide some good feedback for the rest of the weekend for the team.

“And, from a team point of view, we think we are going to have probably a more competitive car later in the year. So, for us, you know, to do that [run Doohan] early is a good thing, instead of doing it in Mexico, Abu Dhabi, like we usually do.”

Speaking about his split with Alpine, Ocon revealed that it had been planned for quite some time before being officially confirmed on Monday.

“We’ve been talking with the team for several months,” he said. “Alpine is a big group, Renault is a big group, and it’s the kind of team that is not taking decisions on just a single race.

“We’ve been talking. We’ve agreed mutually to come to an end, basically, at the end of the contract.

“I’ve spent five years inside this team. We had some amazing moments and [tougher] ones, but five years in terms of Formula 1 world is a long time. Definitely.

“And, yeah, I’m excited for the challenge ahead and excited to finish the collaboration on a high.”

Ocon claimed to have had a productive conversation with Famin at Enstone before leaving for Canada and insisted that there are no unresolved issues with the squad.

“I was at the factory for normal preparation before the weekend, and had a chat with Bruno,” he said. “We were just talking about a lot of things and there’s no awkward moment, and there is no damage between our relationships altogether.

“Everything has been discussed. We move on, and we keep racing to try and do the best we can.”

Following the news that Esteban Ocon would be leaving the team at the end of this season, Australian driver Doohan is believed to be the top contender for promotion to a racing seat for F1 2025. This weekend marks his fifth FP1 outing with Alpine.

Doohan is excited to take on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for the first time.

“Really excited to get out on track in Montréal for FP1,” he said. “It will be my first time driving at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, which I am looking forward to.

“I am grateful to the team for the opportunity to get more track time, and also familiarise myself with 2024 machinery early in the season. This will also help with the work I am doing in the simulator, particularly at the European rounds.

“My focus will be on doing the best for the team and maximising the session for both drivers, looking at certain test items and understanding the new track surface.”

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