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Alpine hopeful Ocon and Gasly will rekindle friendship

Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon have not had the easiest personal relationship over the years. But with Gasly moving over to partner Ocon at Alpine from 2023, team boss Otmar Szafnauer is confident the pair can work well together.

Alpine Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer hopes that new signing Pierre Gasly will work well together with existing driver Esteban Ocon, after some bad blood between the two earlier in their careers. Being a similar age and hailing from the same region in northern France, Gasly and Ocon were friends in their youth and competed against each other, but appear to have had a falling out as they progressed through the junior racing ladder. But with Gasly moving from AlphaTauri to Alpine to partner Ocon from 2023, Szafnauer says he is confident the two can put any animosity behind them. "We made an informed decision, and that means talking to the entire team, including Esteban beforehand, to make sure that if we did make a decision, it's a team sport and we have to be able to work together and optimise," Szafnauer told media. "Esteban was very supportive, Pierre as well. They're professionals and they have no issue working together, and hopefully, the friendship will rekindle. "They were friends at one point, but from a professional perspective, they're both very happy to work with each other."

Szafnauer explains criteria for choosing Gasly

Alpine had been in the market for a driver since August, when incumbent Fernando Alonso announced that he would be moving to Aston Martin for 2023, and reserve driver Oscar Piastri elected to move to McLaren rather than replace the Spaniard at the Enstone outfit. But while it was only announced on Saturday morning that Gasly would join Alpine, Szafnauer said the team had begun discussions with the Frenchman some weeks ago. "It was maybe a week or so [after Alonso’s announcement]," Szafnauer said of when Alpine's talks with Gasly had started. "When it looked like Oscar wasn't 100 per cent certain with some of the contractual issues that we had, then we started working on a shortlist of who else it could be, and Pierre was on it. "We had some criteria to work to, and the three things we wanted was naturally speed: a fast driver; one with experience, and also youth at the same time. "Adding all three things up, there aren't many people that have all that and Pierre definitely does. "We thought he was a great fit for us, so we put him on our shortlist and then went about getting it done. So, we're fortunate to secure Pierre and look forward to working with him."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Spanish Grand Prix - Qualifying