Alpine won’t have a number one driver next season, Laurent Rossi adamant Esteban Ocon and his new team-mate Pierre Gasly will be treated the “same”.
After two seasons with Fernando Alonso as his team-mate, Ocon will have a new partner next year in his long-time rival Gasly.
Alonso is off to Aston Martin, the Spaniard not happy with the one-year deal Alpine put on the table which prompted him to jump ship when Sebastian Vettel’s seat became available.
Alpine initially announced reserve driver Oscar Piastri as the double World Champion’s replacement but that fell apart, the Aussie having already signed with McLaren.
Alpine’s next target was Gasly, the Enstone team doing a deal with Red Bull to release him from his AlphaTauri contract.
The 2023 line-up could be an interesting one given Ocon and Gasly’s past feud, however, managing director Rossi believes they are “mature” enough to handle it.
So much so he’s not setting out a number one or two.
“There will be no hierarchy,” formulapassion.it quotes him as having told RMC. “There is none even now between Alonso and Ocon, and there will be none between Gasly and Ocon. They are the same.
“I have the impression that they have told themselves that there is an opportunity. They are mature, I hope, and they want to do something nice together.
“At 15 you can do anything, but at 26 it’s time to get serious. It is potentially one of their last major contracts.
“At 26, unless you are an excellent champion, you get to the point where you say, ‘Have you made a leap in quality or not?’ I’m counting on them to show that they have learned.
“Moreover Gasly is absolutely what we need to continue to progress. We signed him because he meets all the criteria, plus he’s French.”
That, though, wasn’t one of Rossi’s major concerns when deciding the line-up.
The Frenchman says: “First of all it is the driver’s performance that counts. The idea was to take the best driver available or unavailable to advance the team.”
Thank you Alpine, this could bring some spice to 2023
Ocon has at some point pretty much annoyed every one of his Formula 1 team-mates, at the very least half of them.
Such was his rivalry with Sergio Perez at Force India/Racing Point the team threatened them with a race ban if they had yet another “unacceptable” clash.
Perez, leaving the team at the end of 2018, declared his relationship with Ocon was “never great”.
He had a few issues with Daniel Ricciardo at Renault/Alpine, minor ones that were more a case of the team not taking a stand on team orders, while at times his current team-mate Alonso hasn’t been happy with his driving, or best to say defending.
Fast forward to 2023 and a driver known for not rolling over in the slightest, especially not for a team-mate, will be partnering his long-time rival.
And even better he’ll be lining up alongside him at a team known for wanting their drivers to race rather than go the team order way.
The only question is how long before they clash, race one, two…?