Gasly says working with Ocon 'better than expected'

(L to R): Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team on the FanZone Stage. 21.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 19, United States Grand Prix, Austin, Texas, USA, Sprint Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images
© XPB 

When he agreed to leave AlphaTauri and join Alpine at the beginning of 2023, Pierre Gasly knew that there was a danger of major clashes with his childhood friend turned rival Esteban Ocon. But he insists that it hasn't happened.

“I knew that it would not be easy,” Gasly told Formula 1’s Beyond The Grid podcast. “But at the same time, I knew that we had grown up a lot.

"I’ve known Esteban since a long time, so I know how we work," he continued. "I was a little worried about how he would welcome me and work with me.

"We have different personalities," he explained. "We’re just two different types of people. But ultimately I think we’ve been working really well. I think we understood the responsibility.

The pair were both born and raised in Normandy and competed against each other in karting tournaments. Originally they were close friends, but then fell out when they collided during the final race in the Bridgestone Cup in 2009.

Things got worse when Ocon ran into Gasly during the 2010 World Cup in Portugal. Once they graduated to Formula 1 there was another notorious incident when they took each other out on lap 1 at their home race at Paul Ricard in 2018.

The current partnership didn't have a great start, when they collided during a chaotic restart at the end of the Australian GP and took each other out, costing Alpine what had looked like a double points success. "Honestly, it was tough."

But Gasly is confident that they are now over the past, although he admits that they will never have the sort of friendship they enjoyed as youngsters and that even now at Alpine the relationship is best described as "formal".

“We don't spend much time together,” Gasly said, “But when we get to the track, then we are at work. We are mature, responsible and we are delivering… In terms of a working relationship, it's very formal between us.

Esteban Ocon (FRA), Alpine F1 Team and Pierre Gasly (FRA), Alpine F1 Team 04.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

"But that's all I can ask because at the end of the day, I just want to be competitive. I know Esteban won't invite me for dinner, but I'm fine with that.

“My main concern is to work well with him, to make sure that we extract the maximum of the car, maximum out of the team, and that we are both pushing in the same direction.

"There’s always going to be a healthy rivalry, one wanting to beat the other. But what I care about the most is that this doesn't impact the evolution of the team and the evolution of the car.

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523. 05.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: XPB Images

"We’re both fighting for our careers," he continued. "We both want to make it to the top. We both want to be leaders of the team. I accept that and actually embrace the challenge.

"I embrace the competition because at the end of the day, Esteban is a very fast and very talented driver. He’s proven that. That’s what you need as a team mate, someone that’s going to be pushing you, someone that’s going to be pushing the team.

“I know how much he wants to beat me,” Gasly added. “At the same time, he knows exactly how much I want to beat him every single time.

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team. 04.11.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 21, Brazilian Grand Prix, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sprint Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: XPB Images

"It's not something personal, because at the end of the day I care about all 19 drivers. I want to beat everyone. To beat everyone, I need Esteban to be pushing me and to be pushing the team to improve the car.

“That's exactly what we've been doing. I think it’s probably not as exciting for the media [because] there hasn’t been all the sparks, stories and drama people would have expected, but it's been great.”

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