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“Emotionally very special” to join a French team, admits Gasly

The French driver is delighted to join the Dieppe manufacturer and form a 100% French team with Esteban Ocon next season.

Fed by the Red Bull galaxy in recent years, Frenchman Pierre Gasly, who currently drives for AlphaTauri, will join Alpine in 2023 to take his “own flight».

Within a French duo, the Rouennais will join the other Normand Esteban Ocon, his former childhood friend in karting: “an incredible story” and an opportunity to “break the icebetween the two 26-year-old pilots with a distended relationship.

You were still under contract with AlphaTauri for 2023. Why did you sign with Alpine?

Pierre Gasly: It’s a real career choice. I am in a transition which is extremely exciting, I am closing a nine year chapter with Red Bull, a very long relationship with great success, category wins before F1, five years in F1 with podiums, victory ( Italy 2020), the passage by Red Bull (first half of the 2019 season, editor’s note). It’s a real chapter that closes and a new adventure that begins. I see it as my own flight. What motivated me is the development of Renault-Alpine over the past three years, their performance constantly improving. They won their first victory last year (Ocon in Hungary, editor’s note). (…) Since the start of the season they have been fighting to be the fourth force (with McLaren, editor’s note). They have a complete package, and ambitions similar to mine.

Joining a French team is a plus?

It is of course emotionally very special. Alpine is a few kilometers from my home in Normandy (brand founded in Dieppe, editor’s note). And I grew up with Renault. I had the title of European champion in Formula Renault in 2013, I moved to (Formula Renault) 3.5 in 2014 so there is continuity. Compared to where I am in my career, this is the perfect step to go and aim for the ambitions that I have set for myself.

Are you relieved, happy or impatient?

Happy and impatient. Of course, I am extremely grateful to Red Bull for the past few years. My life was centered around Red Bull. It’s a new start in my professional and personal life. I felt the need. As a driver, the most important thing is to be in a car that allows you to show your talent to the fullest. And I think that with Alpine, I will have the best chance of being able to perform, to pull the team up, to be able to fight for podiums, at the forefront as quickly as possible.

Do you really think Alpine has the means to fight at the top?

What Alpine has shown is really encouraging. This year they are not at the level of the two or three top teams (Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes), but they are really not far off. (…) I’m not saying that we will arrive from the first race and be able to fight for the title, we have to be objective, but when we look at the evolution in recent years (…), it’s clearly going in the right direction.

You started karting with Esteban Ocon but your relationship cooled afterwards. Are you apprehensive of being his teammate?

We have an atypical story and precisely, the story is incredible. We started karting at the age of six, Esteban was there for my first laps, and twenty years later we find ourselves in the same team in F1, both coming from more or less the same hometown in Normandy, living in 20 minutes apart. The probability of it happening… there was a one in a hundred million chance, and it happened! We’ve been through a lot together. It’s true that relations have been a little tarnished over the last few years of karting compared to the different stories that have happened, but (…) I think we’re both smart and mature enough to measure the responsibilities it takes to represent a brand like Alpine and a group as big as Renault. We both have the same ambitions, to be in front, and we know that for that we have to work together. It’s more of a chance to be able to get closer, break the ice a little and start again on better bases.

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