Alpine CEO Laurent Rossi has stated that both Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly haven’t been shackled by the team and that they are free to race each other on the track.
Alpine have had to deal with a frosty atmosphere between their drivers before, most notably last year when Fernando Alonso was partnering with Ocon. The pair touched twice within the space of a lap during the F1 Sprint at Interlagos.
The two separate collisions cost them valuable points, along with starting positions for the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, and the stewards later demoted Alonso to P18 with a five-second penalty.
Ahead of 2023, Gasly replaced Alonso in a move that raised many eyebrows as the Frenchman did not have a good relationship with his compatriot Ocon. They, however, appear to have put this behind them since linking up at Alpine.
Speaking on an episode of the Beyond the Grid podcast, Rossi stated that a clash between teammates was a delicate thing to deal with. That said, he acknowledged the drivers’ instinctive desire to fight on the track.
He said (via gpfans):
“It’s a delicate thing because you don’t want to discipline those guys in the sense because what makes them champions is their instinctive desire to fight, to turn into like animals on track.”
“It is what separates them from us and they could be the most amicable persons off track, but on track when the visor is down, they just turn into like beasts. So you want to keep that. You don’t want to curb that. That’s why I’ve always said let them race.”
However, drivers will be dealt with sternly if they end up causing damage to the team, Rossi confirmed. He said:
“If you make the team worse off. If one of you is in the ditch and we don’t finish and we don’t have as many points as we could have because the car has the potential, then that means you have behaved like kids. I’ll treat you like kids. I would basically ground one of you or the both of you and I will do it, I think, and sue my back.”
“We’ll fight for fourth” – Alpine boss remains upbeat after Bahrain GP
Alpine had an underwhelming start to the 2023 season. The French outfit left Bahrain with a ninth-place finish for Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon failing to reach the checkered flag.
Despite the setback in the season opener, team principal Otmar Szafnauer remains optimistic about defending their fourth-place finish in the constructors’ standings last season.
He said (as quoted by motorsport.com):
“Pierre qualifies where he can qualify, and we’ve got both of them in the top 10, then I think we’ll score plenty of points, and then we’ll fight for fourth.”