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Esteban Ocon saddened by criticism but ready for F1 Canadian GP

Esteban Ocon insisted he would race at the Canadian Grand Prix but revealed he was saddened by the "hurtful and damaging" reaction to his collision with Pierre Gasly at Monaco.

Alpine driver Ocon, 27, will face a five-place grid penalty in Montreal after being deemed at fault for a crash with his team-mate Gasly that saw both Alpines forced out of last Sunday's race on the opening lap.

Alpine team principal Bruno Famin took a dim view of the incident and said there would be "consequences", but that will apparently not include Ocon — who is in the final year of his contract — losing his drive in Canada.

In a lengthy post on social media, Ocon wrote: "Much has been said in the aftermath of the Monaco Grand Prix. While I have received many messages of support, I have been deeply saddened by the amount of abuse and negativity that I have received online regarding my character, my driving, and my career.

"Thanks to the hard work, support, and sacrifices of many people, I've raced in over 140 Grands Prix so far since my debut in 2016. I have always been a tough competitor, and, like most drivers, I've had my share of incidents…

"Of course, I have made honest mistakes. We are not robots; we are athletes pushing ourselves to the limit every day to achieve our dreams of winning races. F1 is a sport where emotions run high, and passions run deep.

"I see and feel this every weekend at the track and on social media… the good and the bad. But the misinformed statements and gross distortions that I have seen online in recent days about my ability to work with a team have been inaccurate, hurtful, and damaging."

Ocon, 27, said Formula One is a "team sport first and foremost" and said he had "always followed the instructions I have been given and raced to achieve the maximum for and with my team".

"I took responsibility for the incident on lap 1 last Sunday and, despite my DNF, I am glad the team added a point to the tally in what has been a difficult start to the season for all of us," he added.

"I respect Pierre as a team-mate and as a competitor. We have always worked collaboratively and professionally inside the team, and this will continue to be the case.

"There is no reward without risk in Formula 1 — and race starts are intense, even more so in Monaco where the opening lap can dictate your finishing result.

"In the end, we are all competitors and hard, fair racing throughout the field is what makes our sport so great and the main reason why I love this sport so much.

"I'm looking forward to competing in Montreal, in front of the fantastic Canadian fans, and to the exciting opportunities the future holds."

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