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Gasly exclusive on Ocon rift: We are more mature now

Despite their past feud that stems all the way back from their go-karting careers, Pierre Gasly says there is more respect with fellow compatriot Esteban Ocon in an exclusive chat with RacingNews365.com.

The 2023 season will mark an important milestone in Formula 1 for Pierre Gasly. It will be the first time he has driven for team that is not backed by Red Bull, putting to an end to a partnership that has lasted nearly 10 years. In that period he was billed as the next hotshot alongside Max Verstappen, making his debut with Toro Rosso in 2017 before stepping up to the main Red Bull team in 2019. But after a lacklustre start getting to grips with the RB15, he was soon demoted back to the Toro Rosso in favour of Alex Albon. Three more years at the sister team, which was rebranded AlphaTauri in 2020, yielded a result for the Frenchman as he took his breakthrough win at the Italian Grand Prix. Now the switch to Alpine in 2023 marks a fresh start for Gasly, taking up the vacant seat left by Fernando Alonso at a team that has always been on his radar. "Alpine has known me for years now, they have always showed interest in the past," he said, speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com . "They've known me since my before I arrived in F1, so I've always had a link with the Renault group."

Gasly: Esteban is the guy I've known the longest in F1

Gasly will be paired with fellow compatriot Esteban Ocon, whose records in F1 are remarkably similar. Both are nearly on the same number of race starts with Gasly on 108 and Ocon 111, both have won the same amount of races in F1, and both hail from the Normandy region in France. "[Esteban] is the guy I know in the paddock for the longest. We met at six years old, 20 years ago and have a long past history," says Gasly. "I will say he's done quite a lot since we both made it to F1, achieved one of our dreams, got our opportunities here in the paddock, and we both want to win and fight for championships." When the announcement was made that they would be teammates, it surprised many in the paddock given their feud that stems all the way back to their go-karting careers. Alpine has already seen its fair share of clashes between teammates in 2022 , which nearly threatened its P4 in the Constructors' Championship battle with McLaren. But Gasly says this is all water under the bridge, explaining how they have both matured into respecting each other professionally and that he is not concerned about any potential controversy. "It's no secret to anyone that we have had our ups and downs, but I think today we're much more grown up than we were," said the Frenchman. "We have responsibilities driving for a manufacturer and we both know that it's in our benefits to work well together, working towards having a faster car. "That's why I'm not concerned at all. I think it's also an opportunity to let bygones be bygones and be in a healthy place. "So far it's been great, we've already had a couple of chats together."

It's no secret to anyone that we have had our ups and downs

Gasly on past Ocon feud

Healthy rivalry between teammates

Conversely, Ocon has shown throughout his time in F1 how his relationships with drivers can be strained. Along with the breakdown in relations with Alonso throughout 2022, he also had run-ins with Sergio Perez at Force India which culminated in the pair clashing at the 2017 Belgium Grand Prix. While Gasly alludes to the responsibility they both have driving for a big manufacturer team, the Frenchman explains that it's important to have a healthy rivalry between teammates. "It's the same as I had with Yuki [Tsunoda], [Daniil] Kvyat, Brendon [Hartley], driving in F1 you want to win," he said. "It doesn't matter whether its teammates or guys from other teams, at the end of the day you do it to be the best. "But that's got to be a healthy rivalry between teammates, knowing that it's important for the team to work well together." In any case, Alpine Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer hopes the pair are telling the truth over their past feuds and have put it behind them as the team breaks into the established top three order.

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