He may have only competed in 18 Grand Prix but Pierre Gasly is to join the big leagues next season as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement at Red Bull courtesy of the Australian’s switch to Renault for 2019.
A hard thought battle with the now Ferrari junior Antonio Giovanazzi on his way to the GP2 title put the frenchman on the map in motorsport and was Red Bull’s latest rising talent. An impressive CV in the junior categories meant he more than deserved his chance when he replaced Daniil Kvyat at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix, but does he risk following the path of the Russian? Both drivers had just one single season with Toro Rosso before making the jump up to Red Bull. Kvyat too impressed on his debut season but struggled when jumping to the senior team, part of that can be blamed on the poor performance of the RB11 and the Renault power unit, Kvyat only scored 2 podiums before being pushed aside for Max Verstappen. Pierre’s situation is slightly different however, he has had the measure of his teammate whereas Daniil did not, there are also no Red Bull drivers on the horizon that could threaten Pierre if he doesnt perform to Helmut Marko’s standards. His edge perhaps is that he also has experience with Honda engines; of which Red Bull will be using next season.
Pierre is having a stunning first full season in F1 with a career best 4th in Bahrain where he looked to be on fine form, consistently in the top ten in all practice sessions, qualified 6th and led the midfield all the way to the chequered flag. Further impressive performances in Monaco and Hungary mean that Pierre currently sits 13th in the drivers championship with 28 points compared with his teammates 2. His performances this season have impressed the entire paddock, particularly that of Christian Horner.
“His stellar performances this year at the Honda-powered team, in only his first full season in Formula One, have only enhanced his reputation as one of the most exciting young drivers in motorsport and we look forward to Pierre bringing his speed, skill and attitude to the Team in 2019.”
What’s also on his side is his positive attitude towards Honda, perhaps the anthesis of Fernando Alonso in the world of Honda relationships, he gets on well with the team and has a very mature attitude towards their development. This will be critical when making the move to Red Bull as his experience and relationship with Honda will make Milton Keynes based team’s transition even more seamless.
He does however have a monumental challenge; Max Verstappen. Red Bull is starting to centre around Max and with the ability he possesses it will be hard for Pierre to get on top of him, despite being two years younger than Pierre; Max has 3 years more experience and has already chalked up four race wins. Pierre is inexperienced and will no doubt need some time to acclimatise to Red Bull and the front of the F1 field but Pierre has a lot of potential and could be the perfect fit for Red Bull and Max Verstappen.
Pierre’s greatest risk however is to become a number 2 at Red Bull and leave himself open in the future to be replaced by Red Bull’s latest young star. If the car is capable he must win races next season and regularly contest for podiums, Helmut Marko is a tough cookie and has high expectations of his drivers, he is not afraid to drop a driver at any time. There have been many drivers enter the Red Bull stable and it hasn’t always worked out, look at Daniil Kvyat as the first example, at Red Bull you can fall as quickly as you can rise and you cannot afford to underperform.
What we have seen this season is a driver who rarely makes mistakes and has a great level of speed and maturity which will help him go far, we will need to see more consistency from him but we could be looking at Frances next world champion.
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