Alpine want ‘healthy rivalry’, no No.1 driver

Date published: March 4 2021 - Michelle Foster

Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso may be a double champion while Esteban Ocon has yet to win a grand prix, but that doesn’t mean the Spaniard will be the team’s number one driver upon his return.

That’s according to Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi, who wants to foster “healthy competition” between his two drivers.

This season Alonso is back in Formula 1, the Spaniard having re-signed with Renault, now racing as Alpine, for a third stint.

His first with the team was his most successful in Formula 1 as he claimed 15 of his 32 race wins and two World titles between 2003 and 2006.

He returned to the team for the 2008/09 season, adding a further two race wins before heading to Ferrari, then McLaren and then walking away from the sport for two years.

This year he’s back, racing for the rebranded Alpine team, where he will partner Ocon.

Unlike Alonso, Ocon has yet to win a grand prix although he has been on the podium, P2 at last year’s Sakhir Grand Prix.

Despite trailing his more experienced team-mate in the numbers, Rossi has made it clear that Ocon won’t have second billing to Alonso.

“That doesn’t exist,” Rossi told Crash.net when asked if the team had a number one and two driver.

“I don’t think it exists in many teams to be honest, at least not in ours.

“The drivers have to be as fast as possible and will clearly challenge each other.

“That’s like healthy competition and that’s about it. There’s no instruction and no number one driver.”

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Ocon, who is in his second year with the team, says he is determined to learn as much as he can from the double World Champion.

“I’m very much looking forward to working with Fernando,” he said. “It’s exciting to see how a two-time Formula One World Champion works and to be teaming up with him is a privilege.

“I’m definitely looking forward as we’ll have a great collaboration. We already started to work together towards the end of the year and there’s going to be more of that in the coming days and weeks.”

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