Formula 1 Racing

How the midfield’s hottest team mate rivalry boiled over · F1 · RaceFans

How the midfield's hottest team mate rivalry boiled over · F1 · RaceFans

Esteban Ocon and Pierre Gasly’s first-lap collision in the Monaco Grand Prix didn’t exactly look as though it had been a long time coming, but nor was it much of a surprise.

This is a driver pairing few expected to be harmonious when it was announced, and so it has proved since then.

The pair already weathered a mutually destructive collision soon after they became team mates last year. As the season went on and Alpine were clearly locked into sixth place in the championship, the contest between the two drivers over who would finish ahead was bitterly fought.

The same desperation to outdo the other, irrespective of the team’s situation, was apparent in Ocon’s ill-judged lunge at Gasly at Portier on Sunday.

Ocon was taken out by Gasly in Melbourne

This was what many predicted when Gasly was announced as Ocon’s next team mate in the second half of 2022. The pair had a fierce rivalry during their karting careers, summed up by Gasly in an interview with RaceFans in 2018: “I started to beat him and he didn’t like it.”

The similarities between the pair goes far beyond nationality. Both are one-time grand prix winners who have come frustratingly close to chances with top teams. Ocon has long been backed by Mercedes, but never had the chance to race for them. Gasly spent half a season at Red Bull before being brutally dumped back to their junior squad during the summer break.

The pair race each other with a greater intensity than is normal for team mates even by F1 standards. At the beginning of last year Netflix’s cameras caught Ocon pushing so hard in a pre-season karting event for media he spun off and crashed while Gasly pursued him.

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But the desire to beat each other is felt keenly on both sides. One year earlier in Monaco Gasly was infuriated by his team’s strategy as they pulled him into the pits shortly before a rain shower arrived. Ocon stayed out and a perfectly-timed pit stop not only jumped him ahead of Gasly, it put him on the podium.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine, Monaco, 2023
Gasly fumed over Alpine’s strategy in Monaco last year

“I mentioned I wanted to go long,” Gasly complained afterwards. “I mentioned track position. My tyres were fine.”

“I think we could have made a different call, which would have put me on the on the podium,” he added.

Gasly’s dissatisfaction with his strategy – especially when it involved losing position to Ocon – was a recurring theme in the latter stages of the…

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