Esteban Ocon refused to comply with Alpine's instruction to back down at the conclusion of the Miami Grand Prix in order to lessen the impact of his teammate's five-second penalty.
The group eventually determined that the directive was "unnecessary." In an unexpected turn of events, Fernando Alonso earned a second penalty, which eliminated him from contention.
Alonso's original five-second time penalty for colliding with Pierre Gasly was reinstated. As the race neared its conclusion, Alonso was at the head of a close pack of vehicles that included himself, Mick Schumacher, Ocon, and Sebastian Vettel.
Alonso may have initiated the series of events with a clever maneuver. On lap 53, he crossed the chicane between turns 14-15. This may have been a mistake, but it could have also been an attempt to deny Schumacher behind him DRS.
Alonso reached the detection line after turn 16 more than a second before Schumacher, who was consequently unable to engage DRS since he had cut the chicane. The stewards took notice of Alonso's infraction of the track's boundaries.
Due to Schumacher's lack of DRS, Ocon was able to approach him at the following turn. The Alpine was rejected by the Haas driver, but Vettel passed both of them. As Schumacher attempted to reclaim the position on the first turn, he crashed with Ocon, allowing him to pass.
The race engineer for Alonso, Karel Loos, sent the following information: "Schumacher and Vettel collided at turn one, causing them to fall behind. "Esteban's car is currently trailing by 2.6 seconds."
"Can we bridge the gap?" Alonso asked. "Confirm, confirm," Loos swiftly said.
However, when Ocon was informed that the squad intended him to retreat and hold off Alexander Albon, he refused. "If I slow down, I'll be passed," he informed his racing engineer, Josh Peckett. Ocon realized that if he slowed down, he would be just as susceptible to Albon as Schumacher had been when he lost the DRS.
Ocon kept up his pace and requested that his crew keep him informed of the situation. As the final lap began, Alpine informed Ocon that his teammate Alonso had amassed the required five-second advantage over Albon.
Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer admitted the team had instructed Ocon to do a difficult maneuver by slowing down to assist Alonso. "That is difficult to do," he remarked.
"The goal was to get a five-second gap so that Esteban could assist after passing Mick Schumacher. Once he passed Mick, he had a role to play and could contribute to obtaining the five-second buffer.
"However, it turned out to be unnecessary because Fernando was faster than Albon, who was five seconds behind in second place."
Unfortunately for Alonso, the stewards determined that he had acquired a "permanent advantage" by cutting the turn 14-15 corner, and he was given a second five-second time penalty. Alonso, who had previously dropped from seventh to ninth, was eliminated from the standings by the further penalty.
Not for the first time, Alonso went wide at that corner. Four circuits later, he did so again, this time with a considerable cloud of smoke as a wheel locked. That time, the stewards allowed him off the train. "Although the driver of car 14 [Alonso] left the track and returned, the time gap to the two following vehicles (31 [Ocon] and 23 [Albon]) remained constant," the stewards stated.
Alpine had apparently not anticipated Alonso's second penalty. Would they have requested Ocon to hold Albon up for a further five seconds if they had done so?