Gasly and I will never be best friends – Ocon
Esteban Ocon has conceded he and Pierre Gasly will never be best friends but has no doubt they can work together to drive Alpine forward in Formula 1.
When Gasly was announced as the replacement for Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso last year, after Oscar Piastri had spurned the chance of a promotion to join McLaren, stories resurfaced of their previous rivalry.
The duo have known one another since they were six years old after growing up in the same region of France.
But their friendship at the time, however, turned sour during their karting days, leading to a tepid relationship since becoming F1 rivals.
As team-mates, they will now be expected to pull together for the good of a team that is aiming to build on last season’s fourth place in the constructors’ championship and push the ‘big three’ in Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari.
Asked as to whether he and Gasly could work together, speaking to invited media including Speedcafe.com, Ocon said: “You guys like the headlines and all these kinds of stories, but you know, we are both very professional.
“We are going to work the way we need to be performing.”
Ocon predicts “great collaboration”
The 26-year-old then pertinently added: “I don’t think we will ever be best friends but that doesn’t matter really, as long as the atmosphere is great inside the team.
“That’s how it is at the moment, and that’s how it will remain during the year.
“The important thing is we keep those conversations open that we are having at the moment, and we will have them during the whole season.
“We are not at the point where we can win every race. We need to develop this car, we need to get the maximum conversation flow going to find ideas moving forward.
“So I’m not worried. It’s going to be a great collaboration together. It has already started and I look forward to keeping it going.”
Asked by Speedcafe.com as to why they could not be best friends as well as team-mates, Ocon replied: “You know, it’s how life goes sometimes.”
Gasly upbeat on Ocon partnership so far
Ocon and Gasly have so far enjoyed three months of working together from the post-season test in Abu Dhabi in late November.
Gasly was given his first taste of working with a manufacturer team after previously spending his entire F1 career as part of the Red Bull family.
As far as the 27-year-old is concerned, it is a case of so far so good.
“I’m very confident,” said Gasly. “I’ve got no doubt.
“I’ve spent more time with him in the past two months than I’ve spent over the last 10 years, and things are going well.
“We are grown-up people now, more mature, aware of the responsibilities that we have being Alpine drivers and having such a big group behind us.
“We just know that if we want to be competitive we have got to push the team forward.
“For that, we have got to work together, and that’s why I have no doubt that everything will be fine.”