Alpine boss insists Alonso and Ocon on an equal footing

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Alpine chief executive Laurent Rossi says there will be no number one driver at the French outfit, with Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon starting the season on an equal footing.

Alonso returns to F1 after a two-year hiatus but with the ambition of returning himself and his team to the winner's circle at some point in the future, a prospect shared by Ocon who heads into his second season with rebranded Renault F1 team.

Despite Alonso's high profile and distinguished track record in F1, Rossi has made clear that the two-time world champion will not receive any preferential treatment from the Enstone outfit.

"The drivers have to be as fast as possible and will clearly challenge each other," Rossi said at Alpine's team launch last week.

"That's like healthy competition and that's about it. There's no instruction and no number one driver.

"[A number one and number two contract] doesn't exist. I don't think it exists in many teams to be honest, at least not in ours."

While Ocon is well acquainted with Alonso, having raced against the Spaniard in F1 in the past, the pair has only recently started its collaboration, which so far has been "great" according to the Frenchman.

"I have always had a great relationship with Fernando, even when we were racing back together in '17 and '18," said Ocon.

"I always had so much respect for what Fernando has done over the years and racing with him has always been very close, but very fun and very enjoyable.

"I'm definitely looking forward to teaming up with him properly in an event. So far it's been a great collaboration and I expect it to be the same for the rest of the year."

But Ocon, who struggled to get up to speed last season against Daniel Ricciardo, expects Alonso to be an equally tough nut to crack this season.

"We will see. Fernando is a two-time world champion. It will be the first time that I work alongside a world champion so that's very interesting," he said.

"I expect Fernando to be ready. He had a lot of testing last year and with his experience and all what he's done over the years, I think straight away from the first race he will be on it.

"So yeah, I expect him to be a tough opponent for sure."

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