Alpine hope Ocon and Gasly ‘rekindle friendship’ as teammates

Alpine boss Otmar Szafnauer is hopeful that Esteban Ocon and new signing Pierre Gasly ‘rekindle their friendship’ when they become teammates in F1 2023.
Alpine hope Ocon and Gasly ‘rekindle friendship’ as teammates

Ahead of final practice at the F1 Japanese Grand Prix, Alpine announced the signing of Gasly on a multi-year deal from AlphaTauri.

Ocon and Gasly were friends during their karting days, having both been born in the French region of Normandy.

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However, their friendship deteriorated over the years, even to a point where there was considerable friction between the pair.

Speaking in the FIA’s Saturday press conference at Suzuka, Szafnauer has no concerns about the pair working together. 

“We made an informed decision and that means talking to the entire team - including Esteban beforehand - to make sure that if we did make a decision it’s a team sport and we have to be able to work together and optimise,” he said.

“Esteban was very supportive, Pierre as well. They’re professionals and they have no issue working together. Hopefully the friendship will rekindle, they were friends at one point, but from a professional perspective they’re both very happy to work with each other.”

The signing of Gasly comes after a long saga for Alpine.

Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Alpine F1 Team, Team Principal in the FIA Press Conference. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 18,
Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Alpine F1 Team, Team Principal in the FIA Press…

Initially, they wanted to keep Fernando Alonso on a one-year deal, while placing junior driver Oscar Piastri at Williams.

Alonso decided to join Aston Martin once Sebastian Vettel decided to retire, giving Piastri a potential drive at Alpine.

However, the highly-rated Australian was signed by McLaren, leading to a dramatic number of weeks as Alpine thought they had a valid contract to sign Piastri for next year.

Explaining why Alpine decided to sign Gasly in the end, Szafnauer said: “We put him on the shortlist and one of the reasons was he was going to become available in ’24, not for ’23, and then it became quite evident to us. 

“He’s got youth, experience and speed, and that’s difficult to say for a lot of drivers that are still within Formula 1. Even (Alonso and Piastri) didn’t have those things, so we’re fortunate to secure Pierre and look forward to working with him.”

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