Esteban Ocon has denied that Pierre Gasly’s recent edge has derived from the characteristics of Alpine’s 2023 Formula 1 car changing midway through the season.

Gasly replaced Fernando Alonso at the Enstone squad over the winter, but Ocon maintained the upper hand over his French compatriot in the first half of the campaign.

Heading into the summer break Ocon had been responsible for Alpine’s only podium result and had also outscored Gasly by 35 points to 22 across the opening 12 rounds.

However, Ocon has only added 11 points to his tally in the last eight rounds, while Gasly has accumulated 40 points to overhaul his team-mate in the Drivers’ Championship.

While last year it was Alonso who received the bulk of misfortune at Alpine, this season Ocon has suffered six retirements compared to Gasly’s one, opening up a 16-point gap.

Asked whether the traits of Alpine’s A523 challenger had changed with recent upgrades and handed the initiative to Gasly, Ocon said: “No, I think obviously I’ve been quite unlucky at times with DNFs and unfortunately it has cost us and cost me in the Drivers’ Championship quite a bit.

“But yeah, that’s how it is. Sometimes you get your season with very few, sometimes you get it more. And this year we got it more. But you know, there’s still a couple of races so we’ll see where we end up.”

Pierre Gasly (FRA), Alpine F1 Team and Esteban Ocon (FRA), Alpine F1 Team
02.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 15, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Qualifying Day.
–, EMail: © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Although Gasly has already beaten Ocon in the qualifying head-to-head with two rounds remaining, the Alpine drivers have been closely matched over one lap in 2023.

“I think every qualifying pretty much we’ve been within the same tenth,” Ocon added. “It can go one way or the other, that’s very true.

“You know, if it’s half a tenth, a brush of wind or whatever it is can make the difference. It’s been very close, Pierre is doing very well, there’s no doubt about that. And it’s been a good collaboration that we have had so far this year.”

Alpine’s current driver line-up grew up competing against each other in karting but tensions simmered over at one point and the pair ended up falling out completely.

But both Ocon and Gasly have been able to put that behind them as part of their collective aim to haul Alpine up the order amid the team’s slump to sixth this season.

Expanding on the relationship, Gasly told the Beyond the Grid podcast: “I knew that it would not be easy, but at the same time I knew that we had grown up a lot.

“I was a little worried about how he would welcome me and work with me. I’ve known Esteban since a long time, so I know how we work. We have different personalities; we’re just two different types of people, but ultimately I think we’ve been working really well. I think we understood the responsibility.

“My main concern was 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.”

“We don’t spend much time together, 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, 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.”

Source:  Read More 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *