Europe 1 with AFP 18:54 p.m., April 02, 2023

Alpine team Frenchmen Esteban Ocon and Perre Gasly were forced to retire after touching each other at the very end of the Australian Grand Prix. A risky end of the race that deprives both drivers of points. A new disappointment for the French.

Alpine Frenchmen Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon spoiled their chances of earning points on Sunday in Melbourne by colliding late in the Australian Grand Prix, the third round of the Formula 1 world championship won by Verstappen. The two drivers touched each other during the third standing start given in this GP, while they were respectively fifth and tenth and could hope to finish in the Top 10 with points to the key.

"There were cars everywhere, cars out, including Pierre in front. Then he comes back on the track, squeezes me a little on the outside and I had no more space, so we hang on," Ocon told Canal+ after the race, adding that Gasly had "apologized" to him. "They both apologized," Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer told a news conference, referring to "chaos at that time". "Esteban followed (Yuki) Tsunoda and Peter didn't see him. It's unfortunate that they collided but blaming one or the other is not the right thing to do. The right thing to do is to learn from that," he added.

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While an investigation has been opened by the FIA to shed light on this incident, Szafnauer has not been worried about Gasly, under threat of suspension at the next Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the end of April in case of penalty. "It's really a racing incident, sometimes things happen without you being able to do anything about it."

However, this third Australian round will remain disappointing for Alpine because "we had the speed to do something good this weekend" but finally "we get through", concluded Ocon. The 26-year-old had already experienced frustrating qualifying the day before, failing in Q2 by seven thousandths of a second. He finally started 11th on the starting grid, Gasly 9th.

"We were in a very good position, I tried to attack throughout the race, everything was going well before the last red flag, I'm really disappointed," Gasly said, without addressing the question of responsibility for the collision. The two single-seaters of the French team and its riders are not the only ones to have paid the price of this Grand Prix that looks like total chaos in Melbourne.

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Sainz penalized

Carlos Sainz (Ferrari), was penalized by five seconds and moved from 4th to 12th place for causing Alonso, finally on the podium, to leave the track at the third start. The race was previously interrupted for the first two times after Alexander Albon crashed on lap 7 and Kevin Magnussen on lap 53.

Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) had to retire at the third corner, as did later George Russell (Mercedes), victim of his burning engine. The final lap of the Melbourne Grand Prix was set behind the safety car and Max Verstappen won for the second time this season ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso.