Alpine seeking professionalism not chemistry between drivers

(L to R): Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team and Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team on the FanZone Stage. 23.03.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Qualifying Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images
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Having confirmed that Esteban Ocon will depart their driver line-up at the end of the current season, Alpine has definite ideas about the kind of replacement it is now looking to recruit.

Ocon has long been known not to get on with Pierre Gasly, so much so that there was a lot of surprise when his fellow Frenchman was signed from AlphaTauri to join Ocon in the squad's line-up in 2023.

While there haven't been any obvious public flare-ups between them, reports of tension behind the scenes have persisted. A collision between the pair in Monaco came just days before Ocon's departure was announced.

In such circumstances it would be perfectly understandable if Alpine went looking for someone who gets on with Gasly just to ensure a quiet life at Enstone next year, but team boss Bruno Famin says that's not their strategy.

"I think the relationship doesn't matter. The professionalism matters. We need professional drivers," Famin told Sky Sports F1 in the paddock at Montreal last week.

"They need to work together," Famin continued. "It's part of the job to be able to work with his team-mate to get the best for the team."

One of the leading contenders for the seat is Australian driver Jack Doohan who has been working as Alpine's reserve driver. He was even handed an FP1 spot in place of Ocon in Montreal although wet conditions intervened.

Esteban Ocon (FRA), Alpine F1 Team Bruno Famin (FRA), Alpine Motorsports President
09.03.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Race Day.
-, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Having taken a year out of racing after finishing third in last year's F2 championship, Doohan is undergoing a rapid acclimation course in Alpine's F1 cars suggesting he's being groomed for promotion in 2025.

But he's not the only one, with Mercedes reserve driver Mick Schumacher also linked to the seat because of his role racing with Alpine's endurance sportscar programme.

"I think he's an option for sure," said Famin. "Jack is an option. We are preparing him. He was testing in [Austria] not long time ago, and yes - he has a quite heavy testing programme. Let's see how he develops. He is one possibility among others, but he's one possibility for sure.

Sauber duo Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu have also been linked to the team as they are unlikely to stay at Hinwil once Audi completes its take over of the squad.

Esteban Ocon (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A524 waves at the end of the race. 09.06.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 9, Canadian Grand Prix, Montreal, Canada, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

In the meantime, Famin also has to carefully manage his relationship with the outgoing Ocon for the remaining time they have left in 2024.

Ocon said that he'd talked to Famin since the announcement that he would be leaving and insisted that their relationship remained solid.

I was at the factory for normal preparation before the weekend, and had a chat with Bruno. We were just talking about a lot of things," Ocon said.

"There's no awkward moment, there is no damage between our relationships altogether. Everything has been discussed, and we move on, and we keep racing to try and do the best we can."

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