Fernando Alonso is "definitely not" as brutal a teammate as he is made out to be, says Esteban Ocon, who has described his Spanish comrade as a "very funny guy".
The two drivers are now into their second season as teammates at Alpine after Alonso returned to F1 at the start of 2021 to replace Daniel Ricciardo in Enstone.
Prior to Alonso's arrival, Ocon admits he was warned to "be careful" of the two-time World Champion, given his reputation as a teammate.
That reputation was birthed by battles with Lewis Hamilton (McLaren, 2007) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari, 2010-13). During his time at Ferrari, Massa accused him of "splitting the team in half".
But Ocon, who was keen to judge Alonso for himself, says he has seen only the good in the 40-year-old, an experienced racer he feels comfortable fighting with on track and working with off it.
Ocon admits he was warned about Alonso
Ocon first met Alonso during the 2020 season and soon realised that the pair share plenty in common, especially their obsession with racing.
"I got told that by a lot of people in the paddock, to be careful, 'Fernando is tough with his teammates, he plays mind games', and all these types of things. And I thought, let's see; I want to make my own judgement," he said, speaking to F1's Beyond the Grid podcast.
"I remember, probably the first time was at Imola and he was just listening, just being there and not really giving his opinion at the time. He had his test role, he was doing a lot of testing and I was just trying to learn and see how things were going with him.
"When he joined, I realised we have a lot in common. I don't know how much the others (drivers) like cars and racing in general, but I think we both love racing more than any others here. And, you know, it's proving it by what he does.
"He has won two titles, one of the most prestigious races in the world (the 24 Hours of Le Mans), and he still comes back in Formula 1 to give his everything on the track. And he's still as fast as he was!"
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Ocon: Alonso is very funny; I can trust him
But above all, Ocon says he can trust Alonso to race fairly with him on track, with the pair yet to collide – despite coming perilously close during an intense battle in Saudi Arabia.
"He's a very funny guy and we have lots of great banter together," continued Ocon.
"I'm very happy to be his teammate. It's an honour to be working alongside him.
"It's great that we push each other so much, because you know that that brings the team to a level that probably we didn't have in the past.
"I remember [first] racing him, when he was in McLaren and I was at Force India, I always had great battles with him and we were close – but he was always fair and [it was] good racing."
Ocon emphasised: "I know I can trust him on that side."
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