Alpine won't allow 'dangerous games' between Alonso and Ocon

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Alpine director Alain Prost says the French outfit intends to keep in check the rivalry between Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon to protect the team's "dynamic and atmosphere".

Alpine's 2021 line-up is a blend of prestige and prospect with seasoned veteran and two-time F1 returnee Alonso paired with the talented 24-year-old Ocon who scored his first podium at the end of last year at Sakhir.

Ocon suffered during the first half of 2020 at the hands of Renault teammate Daniel Ricciardo, an initial shortfall that pressured the young Frenchman who eventually made progress and lifted his performance by the end of the season to the level of the reputable Aussie.

But Alonso's track record of inflicting pain on his teammates in the past has encouraged Alpine to closely monitor the relationship between its two drivers, and to avoid any deterioration or "dangerous games" the rivalry could cause on the team's working atmosphere.

"If a driver is destabilised, that's not normal," Prost told French newspaper Le Figaro. "What is normal, however, is that a psychological game is set up.

"There is always one driver who gets the upper hand. If that's one driver one time, and then the other one [another time], it's balanced and things go well.

"When it's more regular, as Esteban experienced last year with Daniel, it's more complicated. So it's very important that the drivers work well together and that there are no dangerous games.

"It's going to be a long season, and these COVID years are also complicated to manage. It's not much fun, locked in bubbles with incredible restrictions.

"The dynamic and atmosphere of a team are extremely important for performance, so you have to be very vigilant to ensure that there is no degradation, first and foremost, among the drivers."

Alpine knows all about Alonso's tough-minded reputation and demanding character, traits that live alongside his ability to give it his all behind the wheel of an F1 car and extract the most from a team's equipment.

Prost insists it is Alpine's responsibility to make sure it holds up its end of the bargain with the 32-time Grand Prix winner and former world champion, while also expecting a lot from Ocon.

"A driver with such a personality automatically brings something," said Prost. "Fernando is very demanding and a perfectionist. He demands a lot. It's up to us to take it on board.

"But he is also aware that it is probably not this year that he will be able to win races on a regular basis. What is certain is that even for a point for tenth place, he will fight body and soul to bring it back.

"But we must not forget that it is always the pair of drivers who make a team progress.

"We expect a lot from Esteban. He now knows the team. We have changed things for him, notably his track engineer. Everything has been done to make him as comfortable as possible."

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