Gasly ‘very comfortable’ at AlphaTauri

While Pierre Gasly has admitted he wants another chance at Red Bull, the Frenchman is enjoying life at AlphaTauri.

Gasly returned to the team he started his Formula 1 career at after being demoted by Red Bull last season. Since then, he has been in excellent form.

He claimed his first podium by finishing in P2 at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix and went one better this season by winning in Monza.

The 24-year old continued to impress last time out in Germany, and his performances have led many to call for Red Bull to promote him again. However, he’s perfectly happy where he is.

“I was super happy with my sixth place at the Nürburgring, especially since Saturday had been tricky because the characteristics of the track did not suit us as well as the ones we had raced on recently,” he said.

“At the moment I feel I am very comfortable with the way we are all working as a team, and race by race we are increasing our understanding of what it takes to get the most out of the car.

“I am satisfied with how things are going and happy that the results are there. The team is doing all it can and that makes me happy. Now we take that momentum forward to the next race.”

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Next up on the calendar, the sport is heading to Portimao for the first time ever. It will be the third time in 2020 that Gasly is driving an F1 car at a track for the first time.

“I find it interesting going to new places: already this year we have had Mugello, where I had never raced, and also Nürburgring was the first time for me in a Formula 1 car and I have enjoyed that,” he added.

“Portimao looks to be a very nice track, with plenty of elevation changes and some unusual corners, and although I think a few teams tested there many years ago, it has never really been used for Formula 1.

“It will be important therefore for the team to be well prepared and to do a good job in free practice. Let’s see how we go there. At the moment, we seem quite strong on Sundays, managing to fight for points, even if we struggle a bit in qualifying.

“I am looking forward to it and looking forward to some warmer weather, as it was really cold at the Nürburgring, so it will be nice to return to more normal conditions.”

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Marko: Gasly’s Red Bull approach a ‘complete failure’

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko says Pierre Gasly’s approach at Red Bull was a “complete failure”, but his recovery was amazing.

The Frenchman was promoted to the Austrian outfit’s line-up for the 2019 campaign after Daniel Ricciardo left to join Renault, but it’s safe to say that decision didn’t pay off.

After a series of underwhelming displays Gasly was sent back to Toro Rosso over the summer break, but it was from this point that he returned to form, even scoring a career-best P2 finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

And Marko feels that things didn’t work out for Gasly at Red Bull because his approach was a “complete failure”, that approach being simply to beat team-mate Max Verstappen.

“It seems to me that Pierre should take some of the blame,” Grandprix247.com quote Marko as having told the Russian version of Motorsport.com.

“He came to Red Bull and saw only one goal in front of him – Verstappen, no one else.

“If he had accepted from the very beginning that Max is still faster, and tried to gradually get close to him – but he tried to change his style, tried to reduce the gap in other ways, change something, try to attack harder. And this led to complete failure.

“However, his return (to Toro Rosso) was amazing.

“At such moments, you understand how important psychology is.

“If I would have said that I expected such a return from him (Gasly), I would be lying. But unlike Kvyat, who was completely broken, Gasly blossomed. Which was fortunate for himself and for us too.

“Pierre returned to Toro Rosso and instantly became the same Gasly that we invited (to Red Bull).

“I think he learned a lesson and made the right conclusions from those six months at Red Bull. I think he can achieve a lot in the future.”

Marko rejected the idea though that sending Gasly back to Toro Rosso, now AlphaTauri, was a “downgrade”.

“We are talking about Formula 1,” he said. “Do you know how many thousands of drivers dream of getting a place here?

“He still makes a lot of money, and is still in the best championship in the world. I would say this is a chance, a new opportunity, but not a downgrade.”

Gasly’s team-mate Kvyat has described himself as a “living example” to the Frenchman that it’s possible to recover at Red Bull.

Marko confirmed that Kvyat is still indeed in the Red Bull picture, but he must become a more consistent driver.

“Yes, I think so,” he said when asked if Kvyat could return to the Red Bull team.

“He still needs to add consistency, but he had a very strong last race in Abu Dhabi.

“The podium in Hockenheim was also great, but if we talk about laptimes and how he worked with the tyres, then Abu Dhabi was his best race of the season.”

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Gasly says 2019 season was like 'a Hollywood movie'

Pierre Gasly could have scarcely imagined ahead of time the commotion he endured last year in F1, the Frenchman insisting his 2019 season was like a story out of Hollywood.

After an impressive maiden campaign in the sport with Toro Rosso in 2018, Gasly was promoted by Red Bull to a plum seat alongside Max Verstappen at the senior bull outfit, or at least that’s how he perceived the opportunity.

Unfortunately, Gasly’s difficulties in coming to grips with his RB15 and the significant performance gap with Verstappen put the 23-year-old in the crosshairs of the ruthless Helmut Marko, the man who makes or breaks a driver’s career in F1.

Despite a few glimpses of speed, Gasly’s fate was sealed during F1’s summer break when Marko ordered a straight swap between the Frenchman and Toro Rosso rookie Alex Albon.

It was an unavoidable set-back for Gasly, but one from which he started to bounce back in the second half of the 2019 season.

“It’s been almost like a Hollywood movie,” he told Autosport.

“I would not even imagine it’s real, like all the stuff that happened, how it started, when it started, and the things that happened during the first six months.

“Then after the swap, the way I got back into the [Toro Rosso] team, it just did not feel real.

“Like so many moments over the year, it has been: ‘This can’t be happening. It can’t be real.'”

One incredulous moment that painfully added to Gasly’s whirlwind of emotions in 2019 was the tragic death of his childhood friend, F2 racer Anthoine Hubert.

“It was such a roller-coaster year, I went through every kind of emotion,” he added.

“One of the saddest moments in my life was in Spa when Anthoine passed away, and already I was in a difficult weekend going back to Toro Rosso.

“And then there was Brazil, which was probably the best moment in my life and also in my career.

“I had so many up and down feelings through the year, and yeah, it was great after all these different emotions, all these different times, that I really kept myself working and pushing.

“I knew that ‘OK, keep pushing, and at some point, things are going to fall in the right order.'”

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Gasly compares his 2019 to ‘like a Hollywood movie’

Pierre Gasly has described his 2019 season to “like a Hollywood movie” after a dramatic 12 months within the Red Bull set-up.

Gasly began the 2019 season as Red Bull team-mate to Max Verstappen and replacement for Daniel Ricciardo who opted to for a new challenge with Renault.

But, with Gasly regularly cut adrift of the other drivers within the top three teams of Formula 1, the Frenchman was demoted to Toro Rosso during the summer break with Alex Albon replacing him.

“It’s been almost like a Hollywood movie,” Gasly told Autosport.

“I would not even imagine it’s real, like all the stuff that happened, how it started, when it started, and the things that happened during the first six months.

“Then after the swap, the way I got back into the [Toro Rosso] team, it just did not feel real.

“Like so many moments over the year, it has been: ‘This can’t be happening. It can’t be real.’”

Gasly received somewhat of a taste of redemption after he finished on the podium in second place at the Brazilian Grand Prix, but 2019 presented other tough challenges such as the loss of his close friend Anthoine Hubert at Spa.

“It was such a roller-coaster year,” he added. “I went through every kind of emotion.

“One of the saddest moments in my life was in Spa when Anthoine passed away, and already I was in a difficult weekend going back to Toro Rosso.

“And then there was Brazil, which was probably the best moment in my life and also in my career.

“I had so many up and down feelings through the year, and yeah, it was great after all these different emotions, all these different times, that I really kept myself working and pushing.

“I knew that ‘OK, keep pushing, and at some point, things are going to fall in the right order.’”

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Gasly regrets not making most of time at Red Bull

Pierre Gasly clinched his maiden F1 career podium in 2019 with second place for Toro Rosso in the Brazilian Grand Prix – but that doesn’t mean he’s happy with how 2019 went.

Gasly started the season at Red Bull, having been promoted from the junior squad over the winter to replace Daniel Ricciardo as team mate to Max Verstappen.

But the 23-year-old Frenchman’s stuttering performance was soon causing concern within the team. By the summer break, Gasly has only managed to pick up 63 points from 12 races compared to 181 for Verstappen.

“I’ve known Max since our time in karting. I know how fast he is on a single lap and in the races,” he told Dutch publication Formule1.

“He performed very well during those first twelve races, at the level I expected of him.”

Verstappen’s success made Gasly’s struggles seem worse by comparison. He admitted that he wasn’t even close to the level he himself knew that he was capable of.

“For the past seven years I have always been super competitive, except for those six months at Red Bull,” he sighed.

As a result, Red Bull team bosses made the decision to swap Gasly back back to Toro Rosso, while his place at the top table was taken by Alexander Albon from the Belgian Grand Prix onwards.

While Albon did prove to be much closer to Verstappen in the remaining nine races of the season, the change also did Gasly a world of good as well.

Race winner Max Verstappen (NLD) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme with second placed Pierre Gasly (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR14.

He picked up a further 32 points with the squad, scoring in five of the events, including that spectacular podium in the penultimate race of the season.

Even so, Gasly wishes he had been given the time and suport he needed at Red Bull to work his way out of that early slump.

“I think that if we had wanted, we had everything we needed to make it work,” he stated. “That’s why it’s a bit frustrating that we were not able to make the changes that were needed.”

Any hopes that the driver swap might be reversed and that he could be back at Red Bull in 2020 have since been quashed, but at least Gasly will have another season in F1.

He will remain at Faenza, although the team name will be different next season as Toro Rosso rebrands itself AlphaTauri. Gasly insisted that he had done more than enough to deserve another chance.

“Based on the results I have achieved with Toro Rosso since Spa, I think the seat is completely deserved,” he stated emphatically. “I have a better feeling in the car.”

The team will unveil its new car on February 14 in Salzburg, Austria.

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Gasly: I wasn’t even close to my level at Red Bull

Pierre Gasly has admitted that he “didn’t come close” to the level he was capable of during his short stint with Red Bull.

Following Daniel Ricciardo’s switch to Renault, Gasly received the call to step up from Toro Rosso to a Red Bull seat at the start of 2019.

His stint would prove to be a disaster though, often left fighting the upper-midfield rather than the top five.

And Red Bull had seen enough come the summer break as they sent the Frenchman back to Toro Rosso, with Alex Albon coming the other way.

Gasly’s times compared to team-mate Max Verstappen were also a huge concern, but Gasly knew how strong Verstappen was in all departments.

“I’ve known Max since our time in karting. I know how fast he is on a single lap and in the races,” he told Dutch publication Formule1.

“He performed very well during those first twelve races, at the level I expected of him.”

But while Gasly knows he wasn’t “even close” to his level, he also thinks that Red Bull could have helped him turn the situation around, and questioned whether they wanted to.

“I think that if we had wanted, we had everything we needed to make it work,” he admitted.

“For the past seven years I have always been super competitive, except for those six months at Red Bull. That’s why it’s a bit frustrating that we were not able to make the changes that were needed.”

Gasly will remain at Toro Rosso, now known as AlphaTauri for 2020, and after scoring points in five of his nine races with the team in the second half of 2019, Gasly thinks he “deserved” to keep his place.

“Based on the results I have achieved with Toro Rosso since Spa, I think the seat is completely deserved,” he said.

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Gasly ‘pissed off’ as Stroll ruins ‘everything’

Pierre Gasly wasn’t even going to pretend he was okay, telling the world that he was “pissed off” with Lance Stroll who “ruined everything” in his fight for P6 in the standings.

Gasly went into the season finale sixth in the Drivers’ Championship.

Although he was tied with Carlos Sainz on 95 points, the Frenchman was ahead thanks to his runner-up result at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

While Sainz was ahead on the grid, P8 to Gasly’s P11, the Toro Rosso driver tried to make up positions at the start only to fall foul of Stroll.

The Racing Point driver gave Gasly a whack, pushing him into Sergio Perez and breaking his front wing.

Gasly’s dream of P6 severely dented on the opening corner of the very first lap.

He finished the race a distant P18 but for a while it looked as if he would still hold onto sixth given that Carlos Sainz was running in 11th place.

The McLaren driver made a late pass on Nico Hulkenberg to bag the final point and become the first non-Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull driver to finish inside the top six since 2014.

Gasly was angry, telling his STR pit wall that “he should have been right there if not for f*cking Stroll.”

He added to RaceFans.net: “I’m just pissed off because I didn’t take the fight to Carlos and we clearly had the car and the pace to do it.

“We had a good advantage starting in P11 on the grid, Daniil [Kvyat] was two places behind and he finished ninth.

“I wasn’t really looking at Alex [Albon] but more Carlos to finish ahead of him.

“Today we had the opportunity and from what I could see so far Lance just ruined everything.”

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‘Public pressure a factor in Pierre Gasly demotion’

“Public pressure” and “media scrutiny” played a major role in Red Bull’s decision to drop Pierre Gasly in favour of Alexander Albon, according to Christian Horner.

Frenchman Gasly got his big move at the start of the year as he was promoted to Red Bull from Toro Rosso.

Although he didn’t stink the place out, he still came up well short when compared to Red Bull team-mate Max Verstappen and the powers that be eventually decided to cut their losses after the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Gasly was demoted to Toro Rosso with Albon replacing him in the senior squad and Red Bull team boss Horner admits outside factors played a role.

“Obviously we felt that with the pressure building on him, the public pressure, the media scrutiny, it was right to remove him from that and put him into the slightly less pressured environment of Toro Rosso,” he is quoted as saying by the official F1 website.

“And since that switch I think he has driven again exceptionally well. You can see his confidence is growing. He’s driven some very strong races and his pace is getting better and better. He looks happier in that environment, which is good to see.”

Horner says a difficult pre-season certainly contributed to Gasly’s poor start at Red Bull.

“I think that obviously for Pierre it was very tough for him coming into the start of the season off the back of two accidents in pre-season and that I think definitely affected his confidence, and, of course, being the team mate to Max Verstappen is a very tough job to have, having that reference point… it was a difficult first half of the season for him,” he added.

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Marko: No chance of Gasly recovery at Red Bull

Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko believes Pierre Gasly would’ve “never recovered” his form if he had have stayed with the team.

The Frenchman was called up at the start of 2019 to partner Max Verstappen after the departure of Daniel Ricciardo, but a series of substandard performances caused Red Bull to send him back to Toro Rosso over the summer break.

Since that demotion though Gasly has returned to form in style, capping it off with a sensational P2 finish in Brazil where he saw off six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton in a thrilling drag race to the finish line.

Marko believes we are now seeing the “real” Gasly again, but that would have never happened if Red Bull hadn’t have removed him from his seat.

“He’s recovered, and now we see the real Pierre,” Marko told Motorsport.com.

“We always believed in him. It was positive for him, otherwise at Red Bull Racing I think he never would have recovered.”

Toro Rosso principal Franz Tost joined in with the praise of Gasly, acknowledging that it wasn’t easy for him to accept a return to the junior set-up so soon.

“It was not so easy for him this season, but he came back,” said Tost. “I think Pierre from the very beginning onwards felt quite well in the car, and in the team of course.

“I remember he came back he came to my office and said, ‘It looked like you were here yesterday.’

“We knew each other, the engineers knew him, and this helped. And our car at this point was easy to drive.”

Tost believes that Gasly showed fantastic racecraft throughout the Brazilian GP, especially in the early stages where he saw off the vastly more experienced Kimi Raikkonen.

“I must say he drove a fantastic race,” Tost explained. “Regarding the tyre management, he really looked for the car, especially in the corners under acceleration, not to overheat the tyres.

“He always had the speed under control. When Kimi was pushing him, he just reacted on the next lap with one or two tenths faster, and Kimi recognised that he was too fast, and the gap opened to 3.4s, 3.6s, 4.0s, 5.0s, which gave him enough space to control everything.”

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Horner: Red Bull door is not closed to Gasly

Christian Horner says Pierre Gasly could return to Red Bull in the future because if he didn’t believe that, he wouldn’t have kept him on at Toro Rosso.

Gasly was promoted to Red Bull ahead of this year’s championship only to be demoted to Toro Rosso midseason.

The Frenchman, though, has rised to the challenge, scoring in five out of eight races including a runner-up result at the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Impressed by the driver’s performances, Horner insists the Red Bull door isn’t closed to Gasly.

“If we didn’t believe he was a candidate for us we would have released him from the contract,” the Red Bull team boss explained to Racer.

“But obviously we still believe in his talent and that’s why we retained him within the group.”

Horner feels Gasly has dealt extremely well with his demotion, embracing the opportunity that the team gave him by opting to still retain, just at the junior team.

Red Bull have confirmed the 23-year-old will remain with Toro Rosso in 2020.

“He had two choices,” Horner added, “he could either get depressed about it or be grateful for the fact he was still involved in F1 and Red Bull still believed in him, and I think he embraced it rather than got dejected by it.

“I think there was almost a slight relief as well, because the pressure only mounts. He came into the season after two crashes and there were some really tough races for him. I think it was the right thing to remove him from that pressure and it’s been good to see him really find his confidence at Toro Rosso.

“I think he’s doing a very good job. I think removing him from the pressured environment here and putting him back into the slightly-less pressured environment at Toro Rosso, perhaps in a car that is slightly easier to drive, his confidence has been recovering and he’s put in some great performances. That’s why we took up the option on him again for 2020.

“It’s great to see him get his first podium, so it’s a fantastic day for Red Bull. Hopefully that confidence will only continue to grow.”

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