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Esteban Ocon

Should Ocon be benched by Alpine in Canada? RacingNews365 debate

Esteban Ocon's actions in the Monaco Grand Prix have led to claims by some that he could be benched by the team in Canada. RacingNews365's Samuel Coop and Jake Nichol debate the question.

Ocon Monaco
To news overview © XPBimages

Esteban Ocon is at possible risk of a major sanction from Alpine, should boss Bruno Famin ultimately decide to bench him for the Canadian Grand Prix. 

It comes after Famin warned of "big consequences" after Ocon drove into team-mate Pierre Gasly at Portier, eliminating himself and almost the sister car on a weekend Alpine was fighting for a points finish.

Ultimately, Gasly finished in 10th place - where he started - with Ocon doing more damage to his car, and ego, after Famin let him know the scale of his displeasure.

The RacingNews365 team were split on what the team should do - with Samuel Coop and Jake Nichol holding opposite views. 

Read on to see who you decide with and let us know what you think in the poll at the bottom of the article!

Samuel Coop - The case against benching Ocon

Benching Ocon would be an overreaction Alpine can’t walk back. 

His lunge down the inside of Gasly at Portier was reckless and ill-considered. The penalty he received for the Canadian Grand Prix and the points on his FIA super licence are fair.

The fact it was on his team-mate, makes it even worse and he has understandably drawn the ire of team boss Bruno Famin, with the more-than-deserved wrath still to come.

However, suggestions of benching him for the round in Montreal are a step too far. It would be akin to a £1 million fine for a £100,000 crime, setting a dangerous precedent moving forward - not only for Alpine, but for the other nine teams on the grid, too.

A punishment that severe could intrinsically alter the fabric of racing in F1 and would risk sullying the very nature of inter-team rivalry in the championship. That might sound over-the-top, but why play games with an F1 driver’s one true benchmark for what was essentially a stupid mistake in the heat of the moment.

Yes, we know Ocon has this in his locker, and yes, he needs to tone it down, but a race sitting on the sidelines is an overly punitive move – and it simply is not needed.

Further still, it would spell the effective end of Ocon and Alpine’s relationship. There would be no coming back from such a drastic decision. The 27-year-old’s error in judgement – and skill – was bad, but was it that bad?

What muddies the water is this: the end is likely nigh for Ocon and Alpine anyway. The team is not performing, and he is shopping around for better options – like half the grid, might I add.

The fact he has been Alpine’s stronger driver this season is seemingly neither here nor there, and that should be no consideration when apportioning blame, but the team should be looking to hold on to him, not blow it all up.

At this point, Haas appears to be Ocon’s next destination, which would leave Alpine with few options. Valtteri Bottas or Zhou Guanyu? Probably not. Mick Schumacher? No.

In reality, Jack Doohan is the most viable candidate for a step up to a race seat. And that’s where suggestions of benching Ocon (none of which have come from the team, for what it is worth) start to look and feel just a little too convenient.

Would the team seize the opportunity to give the Australian driver a test-run for 2025? I hope not. 

It would be under false pretences and in bad faith by latching onto Ocon’s error to serve its own ends. Admittedly, this is somewhat of a departure from the immediate issue at hand, but it is a sidebar that provides worthwhile context to the wider dynamics of the situation.

Ultimately, they should not do it, and I do not think they will. It is being reported as being under consideration by Alpine, but it would be a seismic - and likely catastrophic - move which is out of step with punishments for similar indiscretions from yesteryear.

There are ways for Alpine to get its point across without the over-dramatic over-reaction of benching him. I hope for and expect a measured response, regardless of what was said in the heat of the moment.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Jake Nichol - Why Ocon should be benched

To extend the overused cliche in motorsport of 'you don't hit your team-mate', you especially don't do it after a troubled start to the season in which the car has been woefully uncompetitive across the first few races with signs of light just glittering from the end of the tunnel. 

You don't do it when there is a chance of a double points finish on what has been your team's strongest weekend of the season to date, and you definitely don't do it when your contract is up at the end of the season. 

Footage from that opening lap has since emerged showing Gasly appearing to give Ocon a good shove approaching Massanet before the move at Portier that very nearly put both Alpines out and cost the team the point Gasly hauled for 10th. It is not the first time the two have come close to blows this season either.

On the opening lap in Miami, perhaps more through pure luck than skill, they did not make contact as Gasly squeezed Ocon towards the wall in the slow Turn 15 chicane section. Had Gasly taken Ocon out there, I would have still made the same point as I am here. He should have been benched for the next round. 

In the case of Ocon, he is not some bright-eyed bushy rookie anymore. He is a grand prix winner and has 141 starts to his name and a driver once considered for a plum Mercedes seat.

Not all of the collisions he has had with his team-mates down the years have been his fault, certainly the Singapore 2018 one was a firm shove by Sergio Perez whilst the other collisions with the Mexican were 50-50 calls. With Fernando Alonso the break-down in their relationship was the key factor and with Gasly, neither of the 2023 collisions were his fault either, so it is unfair to use this as a criticism against him, as if he is someone who seeks trouble with the guy across the garage. 

But taking this event in isolation, given what Gasly has claimed to be present in terms of a pre-race agreement that Ocon would protect him, and given Ocon put at risk a points finish when they are so preciously rare for the team, harsh sanctions are needed. 

A fine, written warning or terms of engagement won't achieve much so it has to be a benching for a driver who looks to be heading out of the exit door anyway. 

What do you think? Should Esteban Ocon be benched in Canada by Alpine? Let us know by voting in the poll below and in the comments!

Join the conversation!

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