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today is Feb 04, 2023

Last year Fernando Alonso out-scored Esteban Ocon by just seven points over the course of the season. It was the closest contest between any pair of team mates on the grid: They finished ahead of each other in qualifying and the races an equal number of times over 2021.

This year Ocon prevailed over Alonso, albeit still narrowly. Once again, when both Alpine drivers saw the chequered flag it was a toss-up which one came home first. Their poor finishing rate was part of the story, however: Ocon ended the season 11 points to the good over his team mate, but Alonso had good reason to feel hard done by.

He wasn’t shy about making his feelings known, either, repeatedly listing the failures suffered by his car. He retired due to technical problems in Jeddah, Monza, Singapore, Mexico City and Yas Marina. To those misfortunes we can add Imola, where Mick Schumacher spun into his car and badly damaged it. Alonso was also unable to start the sprint race in Austria due to technical problems and was pitched off the track by a hydraulic fault in qualifying at Melbourne.

“I had my issues too,” noted Ocon when his team mate’s account of his luckless season was put to him. That was certainly true – Ocon’s car broke down during the British and Singapore grands prix – but it would be inaccurate to suggest his problems were as frequent and costly as his team mate’s.

Esteban Ocon, Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2022 The Alpine duo fought hard in Jeddah The on-track contest between the pair was spirited at times, notably in Jeddah, where the (temporarily pink) Alpine cars put on a terrific scrap. By the other end of the season, in Brazil, things got rather too heated, Alonso collecting a penalty after his determined efforts to pass Ocon at the start of the sprint race left both with damage cars, prompting a public ear-bashing from team principal Otmar Szafnauer. They saved the next day with a useful incursion into the points in the grand prix, which ensured Alpine ended the year ahead of McLaren in the constructors championship.

Despite that improved result by the team there was no repeat of last year’s shock win for either driver, or even a podium finish. Though when a strong result was there to be had, Alonso was the one who threatened to deliver it. His car failure in Australia thwarted a bid for a front-running grid position. He delivered one in Canada, where he shared the front row with Max Verstappen.

But there too he suffered an engine problem which eventually dropped him to ninth at the chequered flag behind his team mate. If there was one race in 2022 which summed up the season at Alpine, it was that.

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Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: Ocon was faster; Positive value: Alonso was faster

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