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Szafnauer hopes Ocon and Gasly are telling 'truth' over feud

Otmar Szafnauer believes Esteban Ocon and new Alpine signing Pierre Gasly need to put their past feud behind them.

Otmar Szafnauer says he believes Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly's affirmations that their karting feud will not impact the Alpine Formula 1 team when they join forces in 2023. Gasly will drive for Alpine as of next season, having completed a switch from AlphaTauri to fill the vacant seat alongside French compatriot Ocon after Fernando Alonso departed for Aston Martin. Both Ocon and Gasly's F1 records are remarkably similar in terms of starts, wins, podiums and points, and the two also both hail from the Normandy region. However, there is a feud between them that stems back to their days in go-karting, which has morphed into more professional respect than mutual adoration as they climbed the ranks to Grand Prix racing. The two have committed to putting this behind them and working together for the sake of Alpine's push towards championship contention, and boss Szafnauer is prepared to take them at their word.

Szafanuer on Ocon and Gasly truth

"Hopefully, what they say is true, and I believe it is," Szafnauer explained to media when asked by RacingNews365.com if he believed the feud was behind the drivers. "I've talked to both of them, and they both say the same thing. "I've talked to Esteban more than Pierre, as I know [him] more, and I asked him: 'Do you think this is an opportunity to rekindle your friendship?' "He said: 'Yeah, never say never, let's see what happens', so he is definitely open to it. "I didn't ask that same question to Pierre, but once they are friends again, or are working together professionally, that fit becomes no different than any other two drivers."

Ocon's temperament

During his time in F1, Ocon has gained a reputation as being difficult with his teammates, having had run-ins with Sergio Perez at Force India in 2017 and 2018, while there seems to have been a breakdown in relations with Alonso over the course of 2022. Szafanuer has recognised this, but believes the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix winner has matured. "He's definitely more mature and he's got a better understanding," Szafanuer explained. "The thing that really pleases me about Esteban is that, under pressure, he often does not make mistakes. "I saw it when he won against [Sebastian] Vettel in [Budapest 2021]. We (Szafnauer was then at Aston Martin) had a faster car, and he did not make a mistake. "It was even more impressive for me in wet conditions drying in Suzuka, which is not an easy track. "To have Lewis [Hamilton] behind you in a quicker car and you finish ahead of him. "He is fast, but can he make improvements? Yes, we will work out how to get better. "He needs to probably make better judgments when his teammates are next to him. "You don't win it on the first lap, teammate or not. If you're aggressive against a competitor, you both go out and you both lose. "You're aggressive against a teammate and you both go out, guess who loses? "So it is just that better judgement [he needs to work on]; you can get him later."

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