Mika Hakkinen has all but warned Fernando Alonso to watch his back, saying he “wouldn’t necessarily trust” Esteban Ocon as a team-mate.
Although Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo did not appear to have any problems last season, the same cannot be said of the Frenchman’s time as Sergio Perez’s team-mate.
The two were colleagues at Force India, which then became known as Racing Point, and such was the rivalry that the team threatened to bench one of them if they did not stay out of each other’s way.
Both drivers blamed one another for their on-track antics, with Ocon even accusing the Mexican driver of trying to “kill” him at the 2017 Belgian Grand Prix.
The rivalry ended after 2018 when Ocon was dropped by the team before taking up a reserve role at Mercedes and then joining Renault, now Alpine, in 2020.
This year, he will have a new team-mate in the returning Alonso, and Hakkinen has warned the Spaniard to watch out for his team-mate.
“I would like to say something positive but I don’t know Ocon that well,” the double F1 World Champion told Unibet in his 2021 season preview.
“From the outside, based on comments and interviews, he’s not necessarily the kind of team-mate I would want.
“You need to trust your team-mate. You talk and share things. You need to trust your team-mate and I wouldn’t necessarily trust Ocon.
“That’s a harsh thing to say but that’s how it is.
“My opinion might be a bit rude because I don’t personally know him, but you can draw certain conclusions by listening to people’s interviews, answers and conversations.
“How they talk about the subject, what their ulterior motives are – you can make some conclusions.”
He is, however, expecting Alonso will win their team-mate tussle.
“Fernando is a real matador,” he said. “He will approach the season in a way that Ocon will be overshadowed.
“I don’t think Ocon has any chances. He has experience and speed but Fernando won’t give him any chances.”
The Finn has backed Alonso to have a good first season back in Formula 1 but questions whether Alpine, with the Renault engine, has the power to put him on the podium.
“Fernando is back into F1. He’s going to give his everything but winning requires a powerful engine.
“It’s as simple as that. They need a powerful engine.
“Does the engine have enough power to overtake on the straights? To enter the braking zone and pass down the inside? I doubt it.
“Without power, it doesn’t matter how good the aerodynamics or drivers are. Every aspect needs to be just right.
“If all the elements aren’t right, there won’t be results.”