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Alpine F1 Team

'Ocon escaped Alpine suspension over lawsuit fears' - report

Alpine team principal Bruno Famin reportedly wanted to bench Esteban Ocon for the Canadian Grand Prix, but was apparently over-ruled over fears it would lead to a lawsuit.

Ocon Bahrain FP3
To news overview © XPBimages

Esteban Ocon will leave Alpine at the end of the season, but will not be benched for the Canadian Grand Prix, as was rumoured in the wake of his Monaco collision with team-mate Pierre Gasly.

However, a report has emerged that team boss Bruno Famin wanted to have the now-confirmed-to-be-outgoing driver sit out the round in Montreal.

According to France's largest sports newspaper, L'Equipe, Famin had intended to suspend Ocon, with his fury on TV in the direct aftermath of the incident the catalyst of the initial speculation after he threatened “consequences” for Ocon's actions.

However, following a backlash online, the one-time race winner took to social media to combat the abuse and confirm he would be racing at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. 

That post came on Friday. On Monday, his impending departure from the French team was confirmed, with his next move yet to be announced.

As reported by L'Equipe, Famin's desire to hand Ocon a race suspension needed approval from team lawyers, with the Alpine legal department refusing his request over concerns it could lead to action from the Ocon camp on grounds of his "right to work".

Ocon received a five-place grid drop for the Canadian Grand Prix for causing the crash with Gasly, and having a driver sit out to avoid a penalty is not unprecedented in F1.

In 2002, Felipe Massa was dropped by Sauber for the United States Grand Prix after getting a 10-place grid penalty at the preceding round in Italy. 

It was an attempt by the Swiss team to side-step sanction, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen taking his place. The Brazilian driver returned to his seat for the subsequent Japanese Grand Prix, but he was ultimately dropped for the 2003 season - with the German taking his place.

However, it is believed Famin wanted to serve Ocon the suspension as punishment, which would have proved to be a more controversial step.

Also interesting:

In the latest episode of the RacingNews365.com podcast, join Ian Parkes, Sam Coop and Nick Golding as they look ahead to the Canadian Grand Prix, Red Bull's struggles potentially continuing and the news that Esteban Ocon will leave Alpine at the end of 2024.

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