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Alpine F1 team vows to avoid repeat of penalty fiasco in Bahrain Grand Prix



Alpine F1 team vows to avoid repeat of penalty fiasco in Bahrain Grand Prix

Alpine F1 team faces penalty controversy in Bahrain Grand Prix as driver Esteban Ocon receives a series of penalties, leaving him frustrated and questioning the legitimacy of the penalties. The team is determined to ensure that such mistakes are not repeated and will reflect on their operational blunders to come back stronger.

The Alpine Formula 1 team is determined to ensure that the unusual assortment of penalties imposed on Esteban Ocon during the Bahrain Grand Prix is not repeated, a situation that Ocon himself believes is unfair.

During the first race of the 2023 F1 season, Ocon received three distinct penalties, with the second being imposed while he was serving the first and the third while serving the second. His first penalty was for an incorrect starting position, as he positioned his car with the right front tire slightly beyond his ninth-place grid slot.

Ocon believed that he was unfairly targeted for this particular violation.

“There were also four other cars ahead [of their grid slots],” he pointed out. “I wasn’t the only one out of position. I was the most forward, that’s true. But not the only one. So that’s frustrating.”

Consequently, he received a five-second time penalty, which he served during a pitstop where his damaged front wing was also replaced. At the time of the stop, he was in 12th place.

However, the Alpine team started working on his car before the time penalty had been completely served, which team principal Otmar Szafnauer attributed to a technical issue.


Szafnauer stated that he believed the team began working on the car before the allotted time due to a timing error, resulting in a penalty.

The system used by the mechanics to count down when they can start was off by four tenths of a second, which quickly led to the situation getting out of hand, according to Szafnauer.

Szafnauer suggested that “we should just add an offset to start the countdown half a second later; half a second isn’t going to harm us.”

The stewards noted that work on the car began when only 4.6 seconds of the penalty had been served, indicating that the penalty had not been correctly served. Their decision stated that “this is a violation of the regulations, but it is not significant enough to warrant disqualification,” and a ten-second time penalty was imposed.

While serving the ten-second penalty, Ocon inadvertently released the pitlane speed limiter too early, exceeding the 80km/h (49.7mph) limit by 0.1km/h (0.06mph), resulting in another 5-second time penalty.

“That’s the driver’s responsibility,” said Szafnauer.

“He has a pitlane speed limiter, and when he believes he’s out of the pitlane, he lifts off and away you go. If you lift off a little too soon… You can also do it on the way in, by getting on it a little too late and going over.”


Ocon also questioned the legitimacy of that penalty.

Ocon stated, “I’ve been using the same method for the pitlane speed limiter, release, and entry for five years, and I was penalized this time.”

“I’ve also been doing the same thing for the starting position, and all throughout last year, I never received a penalty. All of these things are supposedly new. We need to make sure we get them right.”

Ocon acknowledged that the series of penalties had impacted his concentration during the race, which his car eventually retired from.

“I was trying to remain focused, as best I could,” he stated. “But, you know, once you receive a 5-second stop-and-go penalty, it’s already game over.”

As Szafnauer put it, “All of these were operational blunders that we should not have made at this level. We will reflect on it and make sure we don’t repeat them.”

Ocon claimed that it was unusual for him and Alpine to make such mistakes.


He added that they are typically very diligent regarding operational matters and take great care to avoid penalties, but the circumstances of the race caused everything to go awry. Therefore, they will carefully analyze what went wrong and return stronger.

When asked by The F1Lead if it felt like Alpine had potentially resolved numerous issues during the first race, Szafnauer expressed optimism that Ocon’s teammate Pierre Gasly had progressed from last on the grid to ninth and that the errors that plagued Ocon were unusual.

He commented that it was highly uncommon for his team to commit such operational errors.

“Starting work on the car too soon, I have never seen that happen here before. We have effective measures in place to prevent this from occurring, so I am confident that it will not happen again.

“Regarding Esteban being out of position at the start, we will learn from that, and it will never happen again.

“So, operationally, we can anticipate having smooth and problem-free races. If that happens and Pierre qualifies where he can qualify, and we have both drivers in the top 10 positions, I believe we will earn a significant number of points and then contend for that fourth place.”

Alpine F1 team vows to avoid repeat of penalty fiasco in Bahrain Grand Prix Alpine F1 team vows to avoid repeat of penalty fiasco in Bahrain Grand Prix Alpine F1 team vows to avoid repeat of penalty fiasco in Bahrain Grand Prix Alpine F1 team vows to avoid repeat of penalty fiasco in Bahrain Grand Prix