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Esteban Ocon

Ocon provides justification for Alpine replacement

Esteban Ocon has moved to clear up suggestions he is being sidelined for the Canadian Grand Prix first practice as a punishment for the incident with Pierre Gasly in Monaco, with Jack Doohan taking over his Alpine.

Ocon Canada
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Esteban Ocon has dismissed assertions Alpine is sidelining him for FP1 at the Canadian Grand Prix as a punishment.

The 27-year-old will sit out the session, with Jack Doohan taking his place for the weekend-opening practice hour at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

It has been an eventful two weeks for the French driver. After colliding with team-mate Pierre Gasly on the first lap of the Monaco Grand Prix, Alpine team principal Bruno Famin reacted angrily on TV, admonishing Ocon and hinting at future "consequences" for this actions.

The sparked a flurry of speculation that the one-time race winner would be benched for the round in Montreal - a team sanctioned punishment on top of the five-place grid penalty award by the stewards.

Whilst those rumours were put to bed by Ocon in a social media statement centred on the online abuse he had received in the wake of his crash with Gasly, it has since been confirmed that he will leave the team at the end of the season. His next home in F1 is not yet known.

"I've seen that a lot from media, and it's not the case at all," outgoing Alpine driver told media including RacingNews365 when asked if his late start to track action this weekend was a punishment, albeit a lesser one, doled out by Team Enstone.

"As drivers, we have to give... as a team, we have to give to FP1s to a rookie. And, I'm giving mine to Jack [Doohan] here [in Canada]."

Why Alpine have put Doohan in for Ocon so early

In F1, each team is mandated to award rookie drivers at least two free practice sessions throughout a season - one for each car.

Customarily, teams tend to make the switch out towards the end of the year, in places like Austin, Mexico and the season-finale in Abu Dhabi.

However, according to the Frenchman, Alpine have taken the opportunity to get one of its prescribed rookie FP1 sessions out of the way earlier than normal, for a number of reasons.

"It's a track that's going to be green to start with, with the new tarmac - it's quite dirty at the moment," he explained.

"So, things need to be cleaned up a little bit. I got a five grid-place penalty as well, unfortunately for the race. So, my qualifying is a lot less dependent than usual. 

"It's more the race trim [that matters]. And as a team point of view, we think we are going to have probably a more competitive car later in the year. So for us to do that [use on of the mandated rookie FP1 sessions] early, is a good thing, instead of doing it in Mexico [or] Abu Dhabi like we usually do."

Where do you think Ocon should go in 2025? Let us know by commenting or by voting below in the latest RacingNews365 poll.

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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