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F1 – Alpine hopes Gasly and Ocon improve relationship by 2023

Pierre Gasly was announced on Saturday as Alpine’s new driver for the 2023 season, replacing Fernando Alonso, after the Frenchman was released from his AlphaTauri contract through Red Bull.

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon enjoyed a very good personal relationship when they were young, and their families were also quite close. However, after a disagreement, they have had a more uncomfortable relationship than anything else since they both landed in F1.

When the #10 first appeared in the pools of potential contenders for the Alpine seat, many paddock experts ruled him out precisely because of the poor relationship between the two, which made one think that neither would want to work alongside the other.

Asked by about it after Saturday’s confirmations, Otmar Szafnauer assured that the team had already discussed this situation with both drivers.

“We have made a decision taking into account everything,” he said. “And that means talking to everyone in the team, including Esteban, to make sure we made a good decision, as it’s a team sport and we have to be able to work together to optimize everything.”

“Esteban helped us a lot and Pierre too. They are professionals. And the truth is that they have no problem with us working together. I hope that their friendship improves, since they were very good friends at one point. But from a professional point of view, They are both happy to work together.”

“They have known each other for a long time and have raced together. They have the same experience, they are very fast and ambitious, so I think they will work well together,” he added.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, and Esteban Ocon, Alpine F1, in the Press Conference

The French team principal made it clear that Gasly ticked all the boxes Alpine were looking for as a replacement for Alonso, who will drive for Aston Martin next season.

“As everyone knows, we had a free seat after the summer break,” he said. “So we started looking at who would be the best fit, and we had some criteria for that.”

“The three things we were looking for were obviously speed, a fast driver, but also experienced and young at the same time. And there aren’t many drivers who have all of that, but Pierre definitely has it.”

“We thought he was a great fit for us. So we put him on our shortlist and got to work,” the Alpine man explained.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03

Szafnauer assured that all the movements were very fast after the confirmation of Alonso’s departure and the controversy of the Oscar Piastri case, who finally signed for McLaren.

“It was a week or so, or not even that…” he explained. “I mean the shortlist first of all. Then when we saw that Oscar wasn’t going to stay with us due to some of the contractual issues we had, then we started working with our shortlist, and obviously Pierre was on it.”

“But initially he was going to be free for 2024, not for 2023. But it became very clear to us that, as I said before, he has youth, experience and speed, and that is difficult to find on the current Formula 1 grid. 1 included.

“In fact, the other two drivers you mentioned [Alonso and Piastri], they didn’t have that. So we’re lucky to have Pierre, we’re looking forward to working with him.”

Szafnauer also explained that it had been easy to negotiate with Red Bull: “Well, all I can say is that it was really easy to talk to Franz [Tost], Helmut [Marko] and Christian [Horner] to come to an agreement for the future of Pierre”.

“They were very correct and true to their word, they did exactly what they said they were going to do, and it was a pleasure dealing with them.”

Asked if it was a relief for them to have been able to close the deal, Szafnauer said: “It’s a big step forward, but this is for next year. So we still have to focus on what happens this year, what we have to do,” he concluded.

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