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Gasly: Esteban won’t invite me for dinner but I’m fine with that

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Pierre Gasly was refreshingly candid about his Alpine Formula 1 teammate Esteban Ocon, admitting the pair would not be going out on a dinner date but at work, on Grand Prix weekends, they are both pushing the team in the same direction.

It is now 20 races since the pair teamed up, Gasly replacing Fernando Alonso (and Oscar Piastri for that matter) in the all-French team, ending a run with Toro Rosso, then a brief spell with Red Bull, before a return to Toro Rosso.

There was talk of a long and bitter feud between Gasly and Ocon, stemming from their rivalry in Karting and beyond. It was a big deal according to various sources, the families apparently equally militant towards each other.

But the pairing with Alpine has had some ups and downs like any other driver pairing on the grid, and certainly has not exploded into an all-out feud between teammates. Yet.

During an interview with Beyond The Grid Gasly broached the subject of Ocon as his teammate: “I knew that it would not be easy but at the same time I knew that we had grown up a lot. I was a little worried about how he would welcome me and work with me.

“I’ve known Esteban for a long time, so I know how we work. We have different personalities; we’re just two different types of people, but ultimately I think we’ve been working really well. I think we understood the responsibility.

“My main concern was to work well with him, to make sure that we extract the maximum of the car, maximum out of the team, and that we are both pushing in the same direction. There’s always going to be a healthy rivalry, one wanting to beat the other. But what I care about the most is that this doesn’t impact the evolution of the team and the evolution of the car,” insisted Gasly.

Pierre: It’s very formal between us

Gasly: No bullsh!t with Tsunoda, I appreciate that

As for socialising with his teammate, Gasly revealed: “We don’t spend much time together but when we get to the track, then we are at work. We are mature, responsible and we are delivering…

“In terms of a working relationship, it’s very formal between us, but that’s all I can ask because, at the end of the day, I just want to be competitive. I know Esteban won’t invite me for dinner, but I’m fine with that,” added Gasly.

Things did not get off to a good start, coming together early on during the race in Melbourne, Gasly recollected: “Honestly, it was tough.”

Last year, 27-year-old Gasly was a mentor and benchmark to AlphaTauri’s 23-year-old firecracker Tsunoda, a partnership that was very different to what he is having with Ocon: “It’s very different to what I had with Yuki. Yuki was very unique, and in Austin, I had a chat with Sir Jackie Stewart.

“It was just very inspiring to hear about his relationship with Francois Cevert. As he was talking, it was almost like I could relate to my relationship with Yuki, in the way that he came to F1 and how I was supporting and trying to help. It was a very genuine and healthy relationship.”

Pierre and Esteban have been more harmonious than most expected

Ocon: My seat broke in pieces

Gasly continued: “Now with Esteban, we’re both fighting for our careers. We both want to make it to the top. We both want to be leaders of the team. I accept that and actually embrace the challenge. I embrace the competition because, at the end of the day, Esteban is a very fast and very talented driver. He’s proven that.

“That’s what you need as a teammate, someone that’s going to be pushing you, someone that’s going to be pushing the team. I know how much he wants to beat me, at the same time, he knows exactly how much I want to beat him every single time.

“It’s not something personal because I care about all 19 drivers. I want to beat everyone. To beat everyone, I need Esteban to be pushing me and to be pushing the team to improve the car. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing. I think it’s probably not as exciting for the media; there haven’t been all the sparks, stories and drama people would have expected. But it’s been great,” declared Gasly.

With only the Las Vegas Grand Prix and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix remaining in the 22 rounds of the 2023 F1 World Championship, Gasly is P11 on 62 points with Ocon P12 on 46.

Alpine F1 Team are in ‘No Man’s Land’ in the WCC title race, in sixth but wit no chance of catching Aston Martin (261 points) ahead nor Williams (28 points) closing the gap from behind.