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Alpine explain what they have to assess after Alonso/Ocon battle

The fight between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon in the early stages of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a close one, but how did Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer feel about the battle?

Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer admits that the team may have to look at intervening during future battles between their drivers after the scrap that took place in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. In the early stages of the race, Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon went wheel-to-wheel, with the pair swapping places as they engaged in an incredibly close fight. However, the inter-team duel resulted in the duo losing time, meaning that the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas was able to catch up with them.

Szafnauer praises drivers for "clean" battle

Despite some tense moments in the scrap, Szafnauer was comfortable with letting the drivers race each other. "It was fine. It was clean," Szafnauer told media including RacingNews365.com . "It's what the fans want to see, and we told them at the beginning [that we would] allow them to race." However, the Team Principal acknowledges that the fact that Alonso and Ocon were losing time in the battle means they will have to reconsider how long to allow them to go wheel-to-wheel in future. This may depend on what happens at the next race on the calendar, the Australian Grand Prix. "The cars can follow each other easier now, which was the aim of the new regulations," Szafnauer explained. "And because of it, if you can follow easier, you can start overtaking each other one lap after the next, so we've got to see how Melbourne goes and then adjust."

When should the drivers be told not to race each other?

Szafnauer says that the decision on when to ask the drivers to hold station all depends on the circumstances of the race in question. He explained: "In all my time in Formula 1, when I was in a position to be able to tell the drivers what to do, if [it is] at the end of the race - 10 laps to go, or even 15 laps to go - there is no value in swapping the two. "Meaning [that if] you can't catch the guy in front of you, and nobody behind you can catch the two of you, you hold station. But that's really hard to do at the beginning of the race because you can't predict what's going to happen. "But towards the end of the race, if there's 10 laps, 15 laps, 20 laps to go, it is about maximising the team points, and if to hold station means [we] maximise the team points, that's [what we do]." Going forwards, this is an issue that the team will continue to assess. "That's exactly the type of thing we have to look at," Szafnauer said. "When do we tell them to not start overtaking each other? Because it does cost time, so that is exactly the trade." As it was, Ocon finished the race in Jeddah in P6, while Alonso was forced to retire on Lap 35 of 50 due to a mechanical issue.

DEBATE Should Ocon be benched by Alpine in Canada?