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Esteban Ocon to leave Alpine F1 at end of season

Esteban Ocon to leave Alpine F1 at the end of the season - Esteban Ocon to leave Alpine F1 at end of season
Esteban Ocon collided with team-mate Pierre Gasly during last month's Monaco Grand Prix - PA/David Davies

Esteban Ocon is to leave Alpine at the end of this season, the team have announced, just days after his Monaco Grand Prix dressing down for colliding with team-mate Pierre Gasly.

The Frenchman’s departure was presented as a ‘mutual decision’ in the press release announcing the news, but comes after he incurred the wrath of team principal Bruno Famin eight days ago when the furious Alpine team principal suggested to Canal+ that his driver would face “consequences” for his actions.

While sources at the team say his departure is not directly related to the crash – the two parties had already been discussing his future for months, with Ocon out of contract at the end of this year – it cannot have helped.

In a social media post on Sunday, Ocon wrote that he had received horrific abuse online in the wake of the incident, with his character called into question for what he called an “honest mistake”.

He added that the suggestion he was not a team player was “inaccurate, hurtful, and damaging.”

Ocon is known to have a difficult relationship with former childhood friend and rival Gasly, but he also had some testing moments with previous team-mate Fernando Alonso, with whom he was paired in 2021 and 2022.

Ocon, who won one race with the team in Hungary in 2021, said he would announce where he would be driving in 2025 “very soon”. He will also have to endure a five-place grid penalty imposed by stewards for the Monaco incident at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The 27-year-old is managed by Mercedes but is not thought to be in the running for a move there, despite the seat left vacant by Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari next season. Haas or Williams appear more likely destinations, if he cannot get a move to Sauber, who will rebrand as Audi in 2026,

The team said in a statement that they wished him well.

“We would like to firstly thank Esteban for his commitment to the team for the past five years,” Famin said. “During his time, we have celebrated some fantastic moments together, the best of which coming at the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix with a memorable race win. We still have 16 races to complete in 2024 together with a clear objective: to continue to work tirelessly as a team to push for the best on-track results. We wish Esteban the very best for the next chapter of his driving career when that moment comes.”

Verstappen’s uncertain future halts busy drivers’ merry-go-round

With 14 drivers having started this season without contracts for 2025, there was always going to be something of a merry-go-round feel to the driver market this year.

The action began earlier than ever. Hamilton’s blockbuster move from Mercedes to Ferrari, leaked at the beginning of February, got silly season going in record time and there was a flurry of initial excitement.

However, with Mercedes unwilling to commit to a replacement for their seven-time champion until they know definitively whether they can tempt Max Verstappen to Brackley, and/or until they have seen what Kimi Antonelli is capable of in F2, things have slowed down somewhat.

Nico Hülkenberg has confirmed his move from Haas to Sauber, Fernando Alonso has committed to staying with Aston Martin, and Lando Norris and Alex Albon have agreed extensions at McLaren and Williams respectively (both had contracts anyway for 2025). But as of today, there are still 10 drivers out of contract and theoretically ‘on the market’ for next season. They are:

  • Sergio Pérez (Red Bull)

  • Carlos Sainz (Ferrari)

  • Pierre Gasly (Alpine)

  • Esteban Ocon (Alpine)

  • Logan Sargeant (Williams)

  • Daniel Ricciardo (Visa-CashApp RB)

  • Yuki Tsunoda (Visa-CashApp RB)

  • Valtteri Bottas (Sauber)

  • Zhou Guanyu (Sauber)

  • Kevin Magnussen (Haas)

‌Who goes where? Who will be thrown on the scrapheap? The big unknown is what is going on at Mercedes and Red Bull. Until there is clarity at those two mega-teams, everything else remains up in the air. Sainz, for instance, might well fancy the Mercedes seat in a straight swap with Hamilton, or the one at Red Bull should Perez (or Verstappen) leave. But as things stand Mercedes look more likely to gamble on rising starlet Antonelli if they are unable to tempt Verstappen, while Perez looks likely to stay at Red Bull (although Monaco was another shocker for the Mexican). And unless things get truly desperate at Red Bull you would imagine he would stay until at least the end of the current set of technical regs in 2025.

Sainz is currently seen as a more likely candidate for Sauber, who will become Audi in 2026, It helps that his father, Carlos Sainz Sr, also drives for the team, most recently winning this year’s Dakar rally. But will the Spaniard put pen to paper before he knows what is happening at Mercedes/Red Bull?

Ocon is more likely to wind up at a Haas or a Williams, where he could partner Albon. If he does end up at Haas, he may be partnered with British teenager Oliver Bearman, the Ferrari academy driver who made such an impression when standing in for Sainz in Saudi Arabia. Bottas has also been linked with a seat at the American team.

There are all sorts of possible permutations, but it’s Mercedes and Red Bull everyone is waiting on.

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