He was set to be the next great to come from the Red Bull driver academy and got his promotion to the big team surprisingly early after Ricciardo jumped ship to Renault. But so far in 2019 Pierre Gasly has been unable to impress and struggled to keep up with Verstappen, so what went wrong and can he recover before losing his drive.
Gasly joined the Red Bull driver academy back in 2014 (the same year as Verstappen) and was set to join the Toro Rosso team in 2017 but lost out to Kvyat who had been demoted back to the sister team at the Spanish GP of 2016.
As he had won the GP2 championship in 2016 he had to go somewhere so he moved to the Japan based ‘Super Formula’ series. This was perhaps one of his best seasons in racing as he won two races and only lost out on the title by only half a point when the finale was cancelled.
It was also in 2017 when got his first taste of F1 racing when he was called up to replace Kvyat from Malaysia on wards, although he missed the US race for the Super Formula finale. Although he failed to score any points he was consistently in the mid-field battle and outperforming his teammates who had a string of DNF’s.
It was then announced just before the season finale that Toro Rosso would retain it’s current line up of Gasly and Hartley for the 2018 season as Kvyat was officially dropped from the Red Bull family.
After a DNF in Australia the Frenchman then showed what he was capable of, scoring a a career best of 4th in Bahrain. He went on to score a further four points positions ending the season with 29 points thrashing his teammate who could only manage 4.
His strong performance in Toro Rosso made him the obvious choice when it was announced that Daniel Ricciardo would be leaving Red Bull for Renault for the 2019 season. With Daniil Kvyat making a shock return to take the empty Toro Rosso seat.
Expectations then were high even though he was up against the might of Verstappen. However come the opening round he struggled to get to grips with Red Bull and could only manage 11th place while Verstappen scored a maiden podium for Red Bull-Honda.
In Bahrain and China he got up 8th and 6th respectively and after a retirement in Baku he was 6th again in Spain before a season best 5th in Monaco.
He had another slump in Canada finishing 8th and then 10th at his home race in France where he was beat by both Mclaren’s and the Alfa Romeo of Raikkonen.
Then came Austria, while all attention was focused on his teammate who took and amazing win, Gasly could only manage 7th and was lapped by Verstappen on his way to victory.
So far this year Gasly has failed to match Verstappen and been lapped/come close to being lapped a total of 6 times.
It is difficult to tell what has caused such a dip in performance for Gasly after all the promise he showed prior to Red Bull.
One reason might be the pressure of having such a fast teammate to be compared to especially with how well Verstappen has been performing this year. Another reason could be that he is struggling get to grips with the Red Bull car this year although this is less likely given how good the car seems to be.
Or maybe he just doesn’t feel comfortable in the team at the minute a with Verstappen being the main driver Gasly may feel neglected causing his performance to drop. This is most obvious when compared to Lando Norris who has only just graduated to F1 this year. In Mclaren there is no main driver and Norris is consistently with or ahead of his teammate, sometimes even ahead of Galsy in a theoretically worse car.
Another comparison is to Stoffel Vandoorne who career is almost a mirror image of Gasly. He won GP2 championship the year before Gasly and then went to race in Super Formula while waiting for a seat to open at Mclaren. His first few F1 races were also eye openers. But once he got full drive and failed to perform under the shadow of Fernando Alonso, he was dropped.
So the only question remaining is ‘can he improve?’ That remains to be seen but is something he must start to do or else he may end up going the way Kvyat. The only saving grace for him at the moment is that there is no one else ready to take the seat, it is unclear if Red Bull will want Kvyat back in the big team and Albon is unproven. Not only that but the once massive Red Bull junior program is starting to become pretty scarce with few even eligible to race in F1.
Personally I hope he does improve cause I like the guy and think he is worthy of a drive in F1.
What do you think about Gasly’s current performance, can he improve? And will he be able to keep his drive for much longer?
Let me know and please share.
Images from f1-fansite.com