Pierre Gasly: New Alpine driver 'not worried' about Esteban Ocon 'friction' ahead of 2023 F1 move
Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon had a rivalry in their junior years and into F1 but new Alpine signing Gasly tells Sky Sports: "I'm not worried at all about this collaboration with Esteban"; Watch every United States GP session live on Sky Sports F1 this weekend
Last Updated: 20/10/22 6:07pm
Pierre Gasly is confident he and Esteban Ocon will be able overcome past differences at Alpine and help the team compete for Formula 1 titles.
Gasly, the highly-rated AlphaTauri and former Red Bull driver, is joining Alpine from 2023 after the team successfully moved on from their Fernando Alonso and Oscar Piastri failings to land the Frenchman.
While the move was not a surprise given Gasly's speed, there had been doubts due to the animosity between French compatriots Gasly and Ocon, which grew as they made their way through the ranks from karting.
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But speaking to Sky Sports, Gasly insisted he is putting that rivalry to bed.
"We've known each other for 20 years and you're talking to a 26-year-old guy, so it just tells you how long we've known each other for," said Gasly.
"He was there when I did my first laps in go karts, so the Pierres and Estebans at six, 12, 18 and now at 26-years-old are very different. We both have grown up a lot, matured a lot and have much bigger responsibilities now than when we were kids.
"We are both smart enough to know what's best for the team. We've been best friends, we've had a more complicated relationship after that and then I would say, since we arrived in Formula 1, we both achieved one of our dreams to make it.
"From the last couple of years, it got a little bit better."
Gasly and Ocon lived just 20 minutes from each other in Normandy and were born in the same year, 1996. Gasly said the story was "incredible" and "the odds were pretty much impossible".
He added: "I'm not worried at all about this collaboration with Esteban. We're not going to be best friends tomorrow, it's probably going to take time that we break the ice also together and spend a bit more time.
"But I'm sure we know what's best for us, for the team and the fact that we need to work together and the fact that there's already respect for the drivers that we are. For me, that's the most important thing, as long as there's respect the rest will come naturally.
"I see it more as an opportunity to kind of make it up and get back to a more, let's say, healthy relationship as we have had for many years in the past.
"We have the same target; we both want to be fighting at the top and if you want to achieve it, you've got to work together with your team-mate to boost the team forwards."
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It has been a long road to Alpine to secure their driver line-up for next year, although team boss Otmar Szafnauer said he was "really happy with where we ended up".
His said his new pairing screams "speed, experience and youth" and echoed Gasly's remarks about the partnership working - while also saying friction "could be a good thing".
"I'm confident," he stated. "We spoke to both of them and they both said it is their profession and they'll be professional, they'll work together to drive the team forward.
"If there's a little friction it could be a good thing. I think working closely together as they said they will do, perhaps that friendship will be rekindled."
Alpine are currently fifth in the constructors' standings with four races remaining, just behind McLaren. But the team, formerly known as Renault, have long stated their long-term ambitions to compete at the front.
"They've got this 100-races plan to be fighting at the front and that's my ambition and my target, to be right there at the top fighting with the top teams," added Gasly.
"It's not a one-year project, it's something that takes time, but they are heading in the right direction."