Categories: News

F1 sport: The French patrol

Pierre Gasly will join Alpine in 2023 to form a 100% French duo with Esteban Ocon. Here is the backstage of this exciting tricolor project, unthinkable a few months ago.

T. ERNST/ALPINEF1TEAM

Dtwo French drivers united in the only tricolor team in Formula 1! An event still difficult to conceive, as it seemed unimaginable not so long ago. While in the 2000s, Renault had always refused to hire a French driver (despite pressure from the media and the public), claiming that nationality was not a hiring criterion, Alpine will realize an old fantasy thirty years old. “We are a French team and it is a godsend to have two French drivers, but it was not at all sought after, because we have international ambitions, explains Laurent Rossi, General Manager of the Alpine brand. We will be happy to be able to say that we are the France team. But it’s the performance that counts. Pierre would come from Bangladesh or Turkey, we would have taken him the same way. ” So here is that Pierre Gasly, born in Rouen, joins Esteban Ocon, born in Evreux, at a Norman builder! ” It’s incredible, rejoices Gasly. I am Norman, I grew up a few kilometers from Dieppe, the stronghold of Alpine. It’s a international brand, but this wink, emotionally, is very special. As a child, I watched Fernando Alonso win with Renault. When I arrived in F1 in 2017, I was immediately asked if I thought one day of driving for a French team. I had always had that in my head. Today, I am extremely proud to be able to represent the colors of my country with a French team. It’s very strong. ”

At the end of July, nothing could have predicted the recruitment of Pierre Gasly by Alpine. The pilot had a contract for 2023 with Alpha Tauri. The French team was preparing to renew the lease of Fernando Alonso. But the Spaniard surprised everyone by signing with Aston Martin. Alpine then thought to promote its reserve driver Oscar Piastri, except that the Australian had already signed up with McLaren. “We pointed out the free drivers, those who were not, like Pierre, and drivers outside of F1, says Rossi. We didn’t necessarily work the track leading to Pierre first, because he wasn’t available, but we ended up thinking that there might be an opening. We need a driver who scores points immediately to continue our progress, and not a beginner. Pierre knows how to do this, even with an Alpha Tauri which is not always on the level. He still has a lot to give because he is only 26 years old. We want to grow together. ”

A story of French duos

Under contract with the Red Bull family for nine years, including five in Formula 1, Pierre Gasly and his manager Guillaume Le Goff manage to convince the Austrian leaders to release him, after overcoming several obstacles, such as the recruitment of a valuable replacement. , Nyck De Vries, at Alpha Tauri. “It was not easy. I am extremely happy that it could be done, and I am very grateful to Helmut Marko and Christian Horner, who made it happen, says Gasly. A chapter closes with Red Bull, nine years of relationship, a very good collaboration. For me, it’s a new beginning, a new adventure in which I embark with Alpine. I watched the pros The team’s steady sandstone in recent years, with podiums and its first victory last year. Then this season, she is fighting for fourth place in the championship. We have a common ambition and goal to fight at the highest possible level, but we don’t want to set a date. It’s not going to happen overnight, but I’ll be able to use what I learned at Red Bull, the world champion team. I was able to rub shoulders with Vettel, Ricciardo, Vers tappen, this will help Alpine to progress. ”

MOTORSPORTIMAGES

T. ERNST/ALPINEF1TEAM

MOTORSPORT_PANORAMIC

DPPI

The last time a team entered two French riders, Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon weren’t even born! In 1994, Ligier had contested the season with Olivier Panis and Eric Bernard, while Larrousse offered a few years to Philippe Alliot and Yannick Dalmas, alongside Erik Comas, the titular driver. Ferrari had made the daring bet of French duos with Patrick Tambay and René Arnoux in 1983, then Alain Prost and Jean Alesi in 1991. Incarnation of the blue F 1, Ligier played seven seasons with two Frenchmen at the wheel. The team’s emblematic driver, Jacques Laffite saw many teammates pass by from 1979 to 1986. Finally, Renault, after two years with Jabouille and Arnoux, decided to associate the young Alain Prost with the latter in 1981 and 1982. tension between the two men had a major impact on the team, possibly costing the world title. Forty years later, the resentment is still tenacious.

In 2023, the team will absolutely have to manage the cohabitation between Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. They were childhood friends, but their relationship has deteriorated and their relationship is now limited. “We expect them not to fall into the trap that everyone imagines, warns Laurent Rossi. They will show that they have moved on, I trust them. ”

DPPI

reunion

Following the announcement of Gasly’s arrival at his side, Ocon indeed responded with maturity: “It’s a great opportunity for the team to be able to work with Pierre. We’ve known each other since we were kids. It does something when you think that we started together on a small track near our house and that we find ourselves in F1 in the same team. It’s nice. We lost touch with each other for a while, but it makes me happy that Pierre is in the team and that we can start this new adventure together. ” The last two French winners in F1 have the means to write a very beautiful page in French motorsport as a duo. “There are very few people I can say ‘we’ve known each other for twenty years’, knowing that I’m 26 means a lot, underlines Gasly. I have known Esteban since my first laps in a kart at the age of 6 on the Anneville-Ambourville kart circuit. We grew up twenty minutes apart. We both had the dream of F1, but the chances were minimal that we would end up there, and that we would be teammates. We were best friends when we were younger, and then there were complications in our relationship. But since we arrived in F1, things are still much better. The Pierre and Esteban at the age of 6, 12, 18 and 26 are all very different. We have grown a lot, we have matured, we have more responsibilities. The most important thing is that the respect is there between the two of us. Before the 2023 season, we’re going to spend time together, I’m sure it’s going to be an opportunity to renew this relationship and push each other up like it’s always been the case since we were little. ”

If all goes well, the Alpine-Ocon-Gasly association will take on the air of a blue dream.

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