PIERRE GASLY IS GETTING HIS OWN BACK
With some really impressive performances this year, Gasly is refusing to let his stint at Red Bull define him.
If you’d asked Pierre Gasly how he was doing last year, you’d have gotten vastly different answers at different points in the season. At the start of the year, he’d been promoted to Red Bull Racing after 2 years at their sister team, due to Daniel Ricciardo’s move to Renault. When the move was announced, he described it as "a dream come true". Given he was then demoted back to the then-Toro Rosso team after just 12 races, it’s fair to imagine that the season began to feel like a nightmare. Every driver believes they are the best - and has to in order to be successful - so to be comprehensively told that you’re not good enough for a competitive car, must hurt. However, his relationship with the Toro Rosso team seemed to support him, and in the penultimate race of 2019, Gasly achieved his first podium.
His 2020 season seemed to begin just as positively as 2019 (despite being in a less competitive car), and he’s shown significant mental strength in his ability to regain composure and confidence. I don’t want to talk too much about Alex Albon’s performance this season too much, because that’s an article in itself, but Gasly has certainly shown that his stint at Red Bull is not fully representative of his talent. Gasly is my driver of the season for 2020 so far: he’s proven that he won’t fall victim to a missed opportunity, which so many drivers do. His 12 months following his demotion have been the most successful of his career so far, and 2020 has consolidated that.
Charles Leclerc seems to agree: when asked about who has impressed him the most this season, the Ferrari driver said “I think Pierre Gasly. He’s doing a great job at the moment.
“We are very good friends and I’m very happy for him.
“It wasn’t an easy time for him at Red Bull and for him to improve so much with Alpha Tauri makes me feel happy.
I think he has been very impressive.”
Gasly’s season began with a P7 in Austria, moving up 5 places from qualifying; whilst his next two races were less impressive, he reached Q3 in both Styria and Hungary. At Silverstone, he finished P7 again, and described the race as “probably one of the best on my side”. He then qualified in the same position the following weekend, although suffering from poor strategy calls that caused him to drop down the order. In Barcelona, he reached Q3 yet again, giving him a qualifying record equal to Albon, Ricciardo and Stroll, and Gasly scored points again in the race.
The French driver is currently 13th in the Driver’s Standings, compared to his teammate’s 16th. However, I always like to consider hypotheticals when assessing a driver’s performance. For Gasly, we can estimate where he’d be without the engine failures he suffered from in Hungary: the problem meant he was unable to set a time during Q3, and caused him to retire on lap 15. His modal finish this season is 7th, and if he’d finished here in Hungary, he’d be P11 in the Driver’s Standings, moving him above both Vettel and Ocon. Toro Rosso finished P6 in the constructors last season, which statistically suggests he’s outperforming last year’s car, especially considering Racing Point were behind them in the Constructors’ last year, and currently sit in 3rd.
Obviously, there are thousands of factors that play into that data which I haven’t considered. It’s also generally useless to assess a driver’s performance in Formula 1 on results alone; you need to consider overtakes, race craft and consistency - but Gasly’s mastered all of these. His weekends have produced impressive qualifyings and races, but what’s really impressive is the circumstances he’s achieved it in. Part of the magic of Formula 1 is a driver’s ability to overcome all odds and hardships to prove themselves, and Pierre Gasly’s performance this season is the epitome of that. He’s seen moving back to Red Bull’s sister team as a positive learning experience, rather than a dead-end.
So where now? Speaking to Racefans.net, he said ''I haven't thought about going back to Red Bull and it's not something I want to spend a lot of time on.” Whilst he also hinted that he wanted to be competitive at Alpha Tauri, he surely wants to be fighting for podiums more regularly. If I were Gasly, I’d look outside the Red Bull universe, at another midfield team. Here's a link to a really interesting video by Tommo F1, in which he discusses Ocon and Gasly at Renault.
Overall, it’s clear that Gasly has unfinished business. His Red Bull stint clearly wasn’t a reflection of his ability, and I can’t wait to see what he does this season and in years to come.
What do you think? Can Gasly prove himself? Let me know, and follow my Twitter @formulaAMELIA ! Award Amelia