‘Honestly, it was tough’ – Gasly reflects on early-season coming together with team mate Ocon
Pierre Gasly has opened up about his dramatic collision with Esteban Ocon in the early stages of the 2023 season, describing it as the “worst scenario possible” for the new Alpine team mates.
Gasly made the move from AlphaTauri over the winter to join Ocon at the French operation, with the pair having previously raced against each other – and experienced some tense moments – during their karting days.
In only their third race together, Gasly and Ocon were involved in an unfortunate incident when they clashed during a late restart at the Australian Grand Prix, putting both cars out on the spot.
Gasly had been running in fifth position when he went off the track at Albert Park’s Turn 1 to avoid making contact with the rear of Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, only to meet Ocon when he rejoined the circuit.
Reflecting on the coming together in a recent appearance on the Beyond The Grid podcast, Gasly said: “Honestly, it was tough. On the flight back home, I was just sad because, to me, it was the third or fourth race of the season with the team, and I was fighting with the Ferrari, with the Mercedes.
“I had the podium in sight, with Lewis [Hamilton] and Fernando a couple of seconds up the road, but it was a big result that would kick off your season on the right path. Flying out of Australia after all the work and the efforts, with zero points, was the worst scenario possible with both cars in the wall.”
As for the aftermath, he continued: “I have my opinion and it was a racing incident. It was just very much a big shame that we both ended up that way. I lost much more than he lost on that day with fifth place, which was up for grabs, but if it would have been anyone else, it would have been pretty much the same.
“We talked things out. We went to Paris and had a chat with [then Alpine CEO] Laurent Rossi. He had his opinion, I had mine, it felt like he could have backed out of it, but he didn’t and in the end we moved on, shook hands. We agreed between team mates we’ve got to take slightly more margin.
“I had no idea he was there. Could he have done things differently? Probably, but it didn’t happen and in the end that’s the way it was. We were fine, we just moved on, and focused on our job to get the best out of it for the following races.”
Gasly and Ocon’s relationship survived the Melbourne drama and the team mates went on to secure 120 points between them – Gasly edging out Ocon by four points – to give Alpine sixth place in the constructors’ standings.
As for the intra-team situation going forward, Gasly commented: “I know for my team to perform, they need to work in a healthy environment. There cannot be an unhealthy rivalry between the drivers. That’s something I’m aware of and something I’m really trying to be careful with.
“Also personally managing Esteban and the way that we interact. If Esteban is not welcoming me into his own bubble, then fine, if that’s his way of working. I know I’ll get more out of him by pushing the team in the direction that I need him to push the team in.
“That’s why I’m completely fine with the relationship we have. I think it works well. I need my space, he needs his space, and everyone respects that. I think we both have a lot of respect for the drivers that we are. At the end of the day, I want to win, he wants to win. We’ve got to be hand in hand to make it happen.”