Esteban Ocon believes working with Pierre Gasly could be “a great story” after the latter was confirmed as an Alpine driver for the 2023 season.
Months of speculation finally ended on Saturday as Alpine announced Gasly had signed a multi-year deal with the team that would see him replace Fernando Alonso.
Gasly emerged as the front-runner for the seat early on, but there was the lingering question of how he would get on with Ocon as the two were reported to have a less than harmonious relationship.
The tension reportedly dates back to their karting days, but it seems that is now all water under the bridge with Ocon predicting it will be “a great story” when Gasly joins the team next year.
“It’s obviously the news of the day,” Ocon told Sky Sports F1 following qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.
“We were obviously very focused on the job we had today but I think it’s a great story. It’s gonna be awesome to collaborate with Pierre again.
“We started together in go-karts when we were very young and we both had a dream [that] was to get to Formula 1.
“Now we are team-mates in a team from Normandy and we are both from Normandy, so I think we can write a great story together.”
A new chapter will start in 2023 with @AlpineF1Team
I am extremely excited to join the team on a multi-year deal and work our way to the top together. pic.twitter.com/BtkTDOJ0hA
— PIERRE GASLY 🇫🇷 (@PierreGASLY) October 8, 2022
Gasly was a little more up front in his interview with F1.com, stating their relationship had been “up and down” but that he too expected the pair to put that behind them.
“We have known each other for the past 20 years – and we are only 26!” Gasly said. “It just shows how long we have known each other. He was there when I did my first laps on the karting track.
“Our relationship has been going up and down since, it’s not new to anyone. I would say since we arrived in F1 it got better. We both achieved one of our dreams but went through different stages. [There is no point] comparing Esteban to when we were six, 12, 18 and now 26, we grew up a lot.
“We are a lot more mature, a lot more responsible and at the end of the day we have a common target. We both want to be competitive, we both want to be fighting at the front. And we know to achieve that we have to work together for the team. I’m quite excited about it.
“It’s an opportunity for both of us to get back to a similar relationship that we had in the past. What was the probability that two six-year-old kids from Normandy, France, living 20 minutes from each other, would end up 20 years later as team-mates in a French team? I think that is incredible and a very special story.”
Gasly’s replacement at AlphaTauri has also been confirmed, with Mercedes reserve driver Nyck de Vries signing a deal for the 2023 season.