2023 Alpine line-up on show as Esteban Ocon delivers Ballon d’Or

Jamie Woodhouse
Pierre Gasly laughing with Esteban Ocon. Enstone, October 2022.

Alpine's Pierre Gasly laughs with his new team-mate Esteban Ocon. Enstone, October 2022.

Alpine’s future driver line-up, Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly, brought an all-French Formula 1 presence to the Ballon d’Or ceremony.

Since 1956 the Ballon d’Or has been issued by France Football, awarded to honour the male football player deemed to have been the best performer over the past year, based on the votes of football journalists.

Lionel Messi holds the record for most Ballon d’Or awards with seven during his career.

The 2022 ceremony took place at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, where the trophy was delivered by none other than Ocon, the Normandy native driving for French team Alpine.

Fans watched on as Ocon made a rather noisy entrance in his Alpine-branded Formula 1 car, successfully navigating the damp surface to avoid any red flag stoppages.

Ocon gave a wave to the crowd as the trophy was unstrapped from his car, allowing Ocon to then carry it down the red carpet and pose for some photos.

Ocon was not the only French Formula 1 driver at the ceremony, as Gasly was there too, flanked by Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi as we got a glimpse of how Alpine will look come 2023.

Gasly has spent the entirety of his Formula 1 career so far as part of the Red Bull setup, but at the end of the 2022 campaign he will leave their sister team AlphaTauri and the Red Bull fold entirely, joining Alpine to form this all-French line-up alongside Ocon.

With both drivers having been born in Normandy, this everything French feel is seemingly a marketing dream for Alpine, but there are a few question marks over the drivers and how well they will be able to coexist, considering that their relationship has not always been a smooth one in the past.

Gasly though has moved to dispel those concerns, seeing this as an opportunity to return to good terms with Ocon.

“I think it’s more than talking about the relationship,” he told Motorsport.com. “It’s talking about the odds of us being team-mates when we were six years old and racing in karting on a small track next to our hometown.

“Under the snow, nobody turned up and we were the only ones that turned up doing free laps, getting on the track, trying to warm us up.

“At that time it was only a dream to get to F1 and we knew even the chance for one of us to make it there was pretty much impossible.

“But to be now racing in the same team in F1 for a French manufacturer is just an incredible story.

“We have had our ups and downs in our relationship, but I believe this is also an opportunity for us to clear a bit what’s happened in the past and I’m definitely not worried.”

Read more: Pierre Gasly reveals Franz Tost was ‘close to tears’ when told of his departure