Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Shanghai International Circuit, 2019

Getting the best out of Red Bull “proving to be a challenge” for Gasly

2019 Chinese Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says his driver Pierre Gasly is finding the transition to the team a challenge, but believes he made a “step forward” in China.

Gasly, who made his Formula 1 debut with Toro Rosso last year, has been unable to match the pace of team mate Max Verstappen since joining Red Bull this season. He was eight-tenths of a second slower than the team’s other car in qualifying and was running 40 seconds behind Verstappen before making an extra pit stop at the end of Sunday’s race.

Horner said Gasly has “made a step forward this weekend” but his driver is “still not totally comfortable” with how the car handles.

“He’s in the process of needing to refine his style to optimise the best from the car, the characteristics of the car. And he’s making progress with that.

“I think it’s obviously proving to be a challenge for him but he’s making progress and the fastest lap at the end of the race there will give him a bit of confidence as well.”

Red Bull changed Gasly onto a set of soft tyres at the end of the race to give him a chance of scoring the bonus point for fastest lap. He did so but only beat Sebastian Vettel’s best time, which was set on a heavier fuel load with harder tyres, by less than a tenth of a second.

Horner said Ferrari’s ability to increase its engine power for flying laps explains why Gasly was only able to lap slightly faster than Vettel.

“He knew the lap time he needed to beat because we told him as he went out of the pits. But we see after the pit stop both Ferrari and Mercedes, it looks like they go back into a qualifying setting because particularly with Sebastian his one-lap pace when he did a 34.8, and then suddenly he’s in the 36s, there’s one stand-out lap that was very impressive.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “Getting the best out of Red Bull “proving to be a challenge” for Gasly”

  1. How diplomatic.

    Can someone tell Kvyat that if only he started out being 1s a lap slower when he was at Red Bull Racing, and progressed to only 0.8s slower after 3 races that he would’ve kept his seat?

    Gasly is being shown up big time. He’s struggling because the RBR is fiddly and he hasn’t got the capability like Max to cope.

    Good drivers can make a fast car fast, great drivers can make a bad car faster. See Alonso, max, Schumacher. Gasly is not a great driver.

    If RBR had a replacement lined up like Max for Kvyat, this would be an entirely different story, but for now, he’s safe.

    1. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – they need to get JEV in the car. They need to call him up, beg for forgiveness and give him the seat. It’s a crime that he’s not in F1 anymore.

      1. Totally agree.

      2. You’re kidding right? JEV had his chance. If you even remotely looked properly into his battle with DR you would see he had the worse qualifying record of all team-mates on the grid (20-10) with the largest average qualifying gap (0.5 second). There is reason why DR was chosen over JEV for the RB drive/test and that is one of the main reasons. RB have all the data.

    2. Can someone tell Kvyat that if only he started out being 1s a lap slower when he was at Red Bull Racing, and progressed to only 0.8s slower after 3 races that he would’ve kept his seat?

      Because you give people time to dial in. Kyvat wasn’t demoted after three races with Red Bull, just like all the yougsters at Toro Rosso got time.

    3. @stopitrawr Poor argument on your part. Kvyat had much more than three races and ended up crashing into others a lot.

      You admit the car is fiddly. Then you claim he hasn’t the capability like Max to cope. Of course, Max is an anomaly, and is engrained on the team as well. Nobody has claimed that Gasly is amongst the greats like the ones you cite FA, and MS. Max is great but can’t be considered amongst the greats yet. And FA and MS didn’t make a bad car faster every single time.

      Personally I have expected PG to need time as the newbie who will be compared to an incredible teammate. And they have admitted setup errors due to a sensor misleading them from the data standpoint. PG deserves time and patience and he’ll get that this season. He’ll improve as the races go by and as they tweak the car and as he tweaks his style. These things can take time. F1 is supposed to be hard.

      1. Common sense @robbie. I agree with you.

      2. @robbie

        Kvyat was replaced after FOUR RACES in 2016. This was after Outscoring Danny Ric in 2015. So it wasn’t based on long term performance because if it was, it wouldn’t have been him replaced.

        Kvyat even scored a podium, and outscored Danny in the process. Gasly has achieved neither. In fact, while the disparity between Kvyat and Danny was if anything greater in Qualifying in 2016, Kvyat performed better in races until his disaster at Sochi.

        Fact is, if this was Gasly in 2016, he’d be replaced by Max in Barcelona, just like Kvyat was. The lack of a replacement is the only thing stopping a repeat.

        F1 isn’t a kind sport, and pootling around at 1s a lap slower than your teammate is not good enough. Stoff was roundly criticized for not coping with Alonso and even he wasn’t this far off.

        Gasly was made to look good in 2018 by one of the worst F1 drivers in recent memory. He’s not good enough for RBR, sorry.

        1. @stopitrawr Sorry but you are making an a lot of assumptions with your weak argument. You have no idea of all that went into the decision wrt Kvyat. You are assuming it was solely all about on track performance. Gasly is not Kvyat nor Stoff and this isn’t 2016. Different circumstances completely yet you are trying to draw direct comparisons and coming to a conclusion when there are likely many variables and factors that you couldn’t possibly know. You have decided that because they did what they did with Kvyat therefore RBR must always do the same in situations that only appear fleetingly similar to an armchair observer. And you think Gasly fooled people because he had a weak teammate in 2018? Sorry but he is good enough for RBR because they hired him and have given him an opportunity. He’ll have the season to gel with his new team and help evolve the car and help himself adapt where he must. Even if you don’t like it.

          1. We’ll see about that if red bull gets a decent option, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got kvyat on red bull even atm.

            I thought gasly was good at toro rosso, evidently he isn’t, you don’t need ages to get used to a top car, not even bottas did.

            Evidently gasly is a fisichella or frentzen like driver, good driver of a bad car and bad driver of good cars.

  2. I was willing to accept his poor performance at Melbourne due to it being a tough track to overtake on.
    Since then he has seemed mediocre at best.

    The Red Bull deserves a top class driver but so far Gasly has not done anything with it that 90% of the other drivers on the grid couldn’t do.
    I am fingers crossed that he starts putting the car where it belongs – up with the front runners.
    If he can’t then get someone else in the seat – fast.

    1. Stroll is only 5% of the other drivers.

    2. Get alonso!

  3. There’s a typo in the title, Keith. It should read:

    Getting the best out of Gasly “proving to be a challenge” for Red Bull

    1. What if this is his best?

      1. still a challenge ;)

  4. Well, at least he placed the car where in the last acceptable place for a RB

    1. I haven’t asked this for a while. I need an edit button

    2. Ahah, that phrase was pretty funny, but I wouldn’t have noticed the mistake if you hadn’t asked about the edit button, so it has its uses!

  5. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
    16th April 2019, 10:07

    A step forward is now finishing 45 seconds behind his teammate on pure pace. Says it all.

    1. That was a step forward for Bottas last year and now hes almost competetive.

      1. Only that’s not the comparison point.

        In his first 3 GP against Hamilton as a new Mercedes driver, Bottas finished 11 seconds behind Hamilton in Austria, 48s in China (Due to a spin), and 14s behind in Bahrain.

        He also scored a pole position in Bahrain, and was only .3s slower in the other races in Q3.

        Bottas adapted to a new team and a multiple world champion like any good driver should. He fell apart later, but not due to a lack of raw talent. He was ground down by a driver who was not going to be beaten.

        Gasly isn’t close to the level of Bottas in comparison.

    2. 45 seconds on pure pace? So we just forget about his extra pit near the end for a run at fastest lap?

      1. He was 41 seconds behind Max when he pitted.

        1. The facts hurt.

  6. Personally I don’t know what all the fuss was about Pierre last year…

    1. Hartley made him look good.

      1. @phylyp – Yeah true however I thought Hartley got a bit of raw deal considering he didn’t migrate from open wheeled formulas & he copped so much pressure and speculation so early on. With that it was difficult for him to find his groove with all those Honda penalties. I also think he was finding his way late in the season and starting to show a little promise. I would have liked to have seen him go around for another year just to be sure. I also will give Pierre some time to adjust as I think F1 can be a little ruthless at times however I really did not like how he conducted himself in testing. It really irked me after his first crash when he faced the media smiling and saying everything was going well… I bet his not smiling now.

        1. @ming-mong – I agree with you on Hartley. He might have performed poorly, but he also had a tonne of things go against him for no fault of his own – PU issues, the crash in Canada, etc.

          Gasly was a bit sassy last year, talking up his role in working with Honda and building that relationship.

          The Barcelona crash this year is an interesting one – yes, Gasly’s behaviour wasn’t great, but Dr. Marko has also been blaming him for that one crash having affected the RBR programme by a matter of weeks (not just days). So, I’m not really sure what’s going on there.

        2. @ming-mong, it is definitely true that having Red Bull openly offering his seat out to other drivers for much of last year was rather unlikely to be helping his confidence. It also begs the question of whether they were fully supporting Hartley within the team as well, or whether they were putting the minimum amount of effort that they needed whilst they weighed up their alternatives.

          Hartley had his faults, but the environment into which he was dropped at Toro Rosso really worked against him, since there was a strong sense that he was being used by Red Bull just as a stop-gap solution. I do wonder, though, whether there may be an element of that happening at Red Bull as well – personally, I felt a little underwhelmed by some of his performances in junior series, but at the same time I would be interested to know how much support he is really getting within the team.

          I think most would agree that, back in 2018, Red Bull’s long term plans did not feature Gasly driving for them in 2019. They weren’t really training him for that position, and it feels like there is an element of the team thinking “what are we supposed to do with him?”.

    2. Agree. Nothing special what so ever. Red Bull have consistently gotten rid of any talent they had left in their junior programme ever since Max came to Torro Rosso. And arguably even before that with Da Costa etc. And they managed to f themselves over with Sainz as well. He was a good match for Max at Torro Rosso.

  7. Well, it has been written over and over again, that RBR is totally at fault for having no good young drivers.

    In previous years they barely managed to fill in seats, this year they have to cope with 2 last options they had, no matter how bad they are.

    I totally envision that after Monaco (or even earlier) one of these 2 will be torpedoed out of F1. Pun intended.

    1. They should just stop only considering red bull academy drivers, get someone like alonso, he’d pair so well with verstappen, the veteran and the fastest on pace.

  8. Different drivers adapt at different paces so it’s too early to write him off – he will be within 2 tenths of Max by June I think.

    1. I think that is very possible.

  9. Kinda surprised he’s struggled as bad as he has. Both Kvyat (year out) and Albon (never driven an F1 car before) both seem to be adjusting better than he has. Still early days – only three races – but given Red Bull’s history of moving drivers about, Gasly must be feeling more pressure than normal. He wasn’t bad in the Toro Rosso, maybe all he needs is a little time.

    1. He wasn’t bad in the Toro Rosso, maybe all he needs is a little time.

      He needed some time to warm up there as well.
      I still think he can do it. Might not be consistently 0.2s off Verstappen by June as mentioned above, but he’ll have his days.

  10. I think Red Bull knew exactly what they were getting when they promoted Gasly. They knew he wasn’t a top talent and they knew he wouldn’t bother Verstappen, so they knew they’d have a ‘Schumacher era Ferrari’ set-up in 2019.

    Wonder if they’ll decide they like it…?

    1. he’s still too far off. The gap means others could split them, if the car ever becomes championship material.

      1. If the car ever becomes Championship material Gasly will have a car he won’t be struggling to sort along with the team, as it will be well sorted.

        And the comparison of MV/PG to MS/Ferrari is ridiculous.

  11. RBs decisions made this happen obviously. They pushed RIC towards REN and decided to grant another of max’ wishes by not signing SAI.

  12. Everyone’s talking about Red Bull not having any other option, but what about Vettel? I think he would gladly leave the current state of things at Ferrari and take the 2021 seat in Milton Keynes. So far it seems to be tailored for him.

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