Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Hockenheimring, 2019

Gone in 12 races: How Gasly’s terrible season forced Red Bull to act

2019 team mate battles: Verstappen vs Gasly

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Pierre Gasly has been dropped by Red Bull just 12 races after making his debut for the team at the beginning of the season.

During that time Gasly contributed just 63 points, barely more than 25% of the team’s total. Given their 44-point deficit to Ferrari, it’s no exaggeration to say that with a reasonably competitive driver in the second car, Red Bull would only have Mercedes in front of them in the championship at the moment.

While Max Verstappen has been winning races and taking pole positions, Gasly hasn’t completed a single lap inside the top three. After he followed Carlos Sainz Jnr’s McLaren home at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Gasly needed to “take some time out during the summer break, reflect on the first half of the season and take the lesson from that into the second half of the year”.

However Gasly will not return to Red Bull, but instead to Toro Rosso, while Alexander Albon moves the other way.

The hard facts of Gasly’s terrible tenure at Red Bull are even worse than the tables below make out. While he did out-qualify Verstappen once in Canada, this came about because Verstappen’s final run was spoiled by a red flag. Although he set a fastest like-for-like time than his team mate in Q1 in Baku, this was later deleted due to a technical infringement, and Gasly’s effort had already been rendered moot by a penalty for missing the weighbridge.

Factor those qualifying performances out and Gasly’s deficit to Verstappen has been a steady three-tenths of a second – on a good day.

Nor has he managed a single win over his team mate ‘on merit’ in a race. Gasly finished ahead of Verstappen just once, at Silverstone, after his team mate was rammed out of third place by Sebastian Vettel.

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That weekend seemed to mark a turning point for Gasly. It was by far his most convincing performance up to that point, and coincided with him taking Verstappen’s lead on car set-up. But he slumped in the next two races again. In Hungary he was mystified why the car balance he enjoyed on Friday vanished overnight.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2019
Verstappen has lapped Gasly more than once
There is no doubt that in Verstappen, Gasly was being judged against one of the best. “It’s no surprise to anyone that he is probably the best driver or the top two best driver on the grid at the moment,” said Gasly in Hungary.

However going into the summer break Gasly was positive he could draw on Verstappen’s experience to raise his game.

“I’m only in Formula 1 one-and-a-half years,” he said. “I know I have things on my side, I’m going to develop, the driver I will be in five years will be completely different than the driver I am now.

“It’s more important to use this strength and his performances, trying to understand what he does that works with that to my benefit and my advantage and develop myself even faster.”

Red Bull clearly weren’t prepared to wait that long, or at least prefer to leave Gasly in a Toro Rosso in the meantime. Now Albon gets to experience how formidable a team mate Verstappen is.

Gasly will be reunited with another driver who knows how it is to be cut by Red Bull at mid-season. Daniil Kvyat. However his 413-day tenure at the team was almost three times as long as Gasly’s turned out to be.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Verstappen vs Gasly: Key stats

Verstappen vs Gasly: Who finished ahead at each round

Max Verstappen Q
Pierre Gasly Q

Verstappen vs Gasly: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time

2019 F1 season

Browse all 2019 F1 season articles

Author information

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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46 comments on “Gone in 12 races: How Gasly’s terrible season forced Red Bull to act”

  1. I suppose this article has been in the oven for months now.

    Can’t say I didn’t see it coming, I’m surprised they went for Albon rather than Kvyat.

    But I still think their biggest mistake in recent years has been letting Sainz go…. He’d be ideal next to Max.

    1. I suppose this article has been in the oven for months now.

      @fer-no65 – Ha ha ha, I can imagine Keith sitting after each race thinking “Dang it, still no driver change”, and going in to update the title, table and charts. Today he finally got to hit “Publish”!

    2. @fer-no65

      I’m surprised they went for Albon rather than Kvyat.

      I’m afraid Kvyat was never taken into consideration. He is merely a known quantity and therefore a good reference point for the next talent, like RB did with Gasly and Albon.

      1. @matthijs yeah, a known quantity exactly. But Albon has driven a F1 car only 11 times in his life, and from being out of it 8 months ago, now he’s about to continue his career in one of the best cars in the grid. Seems a bit steep… and that’s the exact same mistake they did with Kvyat and eventually Gasly, and look how that turned out!

    3. @fer-no65

      But I still think their biggest mistake in recent years has been letting Sainz go…. He’d be ideal next to Max.

      I agree, i think RB had a good reason to do so, Honda. Rb knew Sainz jr was slow but they surely thought that by now they would have another good driver on the ranks rather than thinking about a driver that has not been quicker than any of his teammates except kvyat, sainz jr. Rb wanting to sign Lando shows that they knew they had no top drivers but max.

    4. Isn’t it already part of that mid-season review he makes every year ?
      With the switch being announced today, why not start with Red Bull?

    5. @fer-no65 It’s part of the mid-season driver comparison series, so you’re probably right about the article being in the oven for months – driver swap or no driver swap ;)

  2. Too bad. If only Gasly had won one or two races, “Now we can fight!” could’ve been classics.

    1. Wonder what Alonso is thinking this morning after that comment by Gasly in Bahrain last year.

      1. Marcel Bouwer
        13th August 2019, 7:57


  3. I know I have things on my side, I’m going to develop, the driver I will be in five years will be completely different than the driver I am now.

    Unfortunately that completely different driver in 5 years will be driving in Formula E…

    1. Formula E… the dinky-toy graveyard of broken F1 careers and wannabe’s who never made to F1 in the first place. Maybe being ‘awarded’ fan-boost will soothe his bruised ego a bit.

      1. @jeffreyj pretty sure the very good salary, the factory drive, the road-car relevance and the increasing popularity will soothe it more.
        No big fan of the gimmicky elements but FE is slowly becoming a serious contender.

        1. @hahostolze It’s road-relevant, I’ll give you that. But no amount of salary can compensate having to race around impromptu made up mini-tracks in a parking lot or airport, in dinky-toy that is slower than most junior categories.

      2. You dont just need talent to get to f1, just daddy’s money and name

  4. I am not claiming to have crystal ball, and I admit I was wrong to anticipate Kvyat dismissal after Monaco, right after first race I was “amused” RBR is employing both Gasly and Kvyat.

    One of them slightly improved from previous blunders and might be given a lifeline at the end of the season, but only at TR, because RBR has no one to replace him by, but the other failed miserably, and is 100% on the way out.

  5. I’d still call this a knee jerk response from Red Bull, but then they likely figured it worked once before and it’ll work again (which I doubt, though I’m interested to see how Albon does)

    1. I don’t think this is knee-jerk at all. Thanks to Verstappen they are just about still in the hunt for 2nd place in the WCC and Gasly was doing his best to ensure they finish 3rd. Nobody was expecting him to beat Verstappen, but they were expecting him to be consistently in the Top 6, something which he has only done on 5 out of 12 occasions. He’s being lapped by his team-mate and is racing with the midfield; a change had to be made. It’s worth the gamble on Albon.

  6. Gasly will end up in Formula E in a couple of years. It will soon be the Red Bull rejects championship.

    1. Maybe Red Bull will have a deal with F-e Teams with regards to supplying drivers.

  7. No doubt Gasly does not deserve the Red Bull seat, but I still feel so sorry for him. He and his family have devoted their life to getting to F1, believing Pierre has the talent. To have their belief proved false and their life long dream torn up must deeply hurt.

    1. Except He has F1 talent and proved it last season. Unless completely shattered emotionally, I can see him maxing out his Toro Rosso car potential once again.

    2. So what you’re saying is that Pierre not only failed to prove RedBull Racing’s belief in him, but also that of his parents? Ouch, that’s savage.

    3. I think we’re at the stage now where if any family was 100% serious about getting someone into F1, the last thing they’d do is sign up to the Red Bull Junior programme – it’s the 1-week Intensive Driving School route to the top-league, with the similar crash (figuratively or literally?) after the fact when you realise you’re actually often not up to snuff.

      1. F1 is a collection of The Best, of The Best, of The Best, when it comes to drivers, technical staff and management (I expect push-back on this one).
        Anyone who doesn’t fit the mold, have the passion, single minded drive or creative requirements, either won’t get there or won’t last long.
        This is what we expect as “expert” fans and critics of the sport.
        For every thousand young aspiring drivers out there working on a karting future and road to F1, there might be 2 or 3 that actually make it. Yes it is a cruel world and the numbers are overwhelming, but for every “winner” that gets as far as Gasly has, there are 998 aspiring drivers and supporting families that didn’t make it. You may not like it, but that is reality.

      2. Seems to have worked ok for Verstappen so far.

  8. While Max Verstappen has been winning races and taking pole positions

    That last ‘s’ is a bit generoussss ;)

    1. +1.
      Wondered when that would be mentioned.
      I just got back from a trip in the Time Machine, yes, there are more to come. I would be more specific, but that would spoil the fun. I checked.

  9. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    12th August 2019, 13:03

    As much as I feel bad for Gasly, and as psychologically destructive this will probably be on what I imagine is already a fragile state of mind, the crux of the issue is that he just wasn’t performing well at all. He looked out of his depth, slow and nervous in overtaking and defending. He looked like someone with no confidence and even on his ‘good days’ Verstappen was still miles ahead of him. I don’t think Red Bull ever expected him to beat Verstappen but probably expected him to be a little closer than the adrift at sea he is.

    Albon’s target has to be simply to beat the 63 points that Gasly managed in the first half of the season.

  10. I get the feeling #20 in Keith’s mid-season driver rankings is going to be one of the less contentious allocations.

    1. @ninjenius surely Kubica has to be in contention for this title?

      1. @francorchamps17 I’d say he’s down there definitely, given his woeful record against Russell, but Gasly’s making a good car look bad whilst Robert’s just making a bad car look bad.

  11. GAsly was bad, but the burden of failure has to be shared with whoever promoted the guy.

    1. Indeed – and the ‘driver manager’ inside the team (hm, guess that’s one and the same guy?), because it is hard to believe that, even with Verstappen being so good, a top team could only manage the 1 time to give their new driver a car in which he felt confidence in 12 races and two weeks of testing. Sure Gasly failed, but the team did too, majorly.

    2. Yeah, it was at least a year too early to tell if Gasly was good enough in the first place and it also was at least a year too early for Gasly himself in terms of both on-track and mental experience of being in F1.

      So for a guy who promoted Piere too early (Helmut Marko), the logical step to correct this mistake is, of course, promoting a guy after just half a season!

      1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
        12th August 2019, 14:58

        You forget that drives may mature at different rates. Verstappen had 1 full season and 4 races under his belt and he proved his worth at Red Bull. Albon might perform, we won’t know until Belgium and Italy

        1. @justarandomdutchguy I wasn’t talking about maturity and I wasn’t talking about VER.

          What I meant is that Gasly could have done with another year at STR. It helps in gaining driving experience, obviously, and to just go through the motions once more, seeing every situation for a second time, all the race weekend procedures, tracks, paddock culture & politics and all kinds of different circumstances (race-related and otherwise).

          In other words, a little better ‘weten waar Abraham de mosterd haalt en goed beslagen ten ijs komen’ before moving up.

        2. Personally, I’m hoping Albon out-qualifies Max the first time out.

          I know it’s unlikely…. but ye gods would it be entertaining. :)

  12. Gasly probably just cost them a race win and almost certainly 2nd in the constructors championship. Makes no sense to continue down that path to then put another untested driver in next season when they want to be challenging Mercedes. They’ve spoken of Kvyat being a barometer for Albon and he’ll now presumably be another barometer for Gasly who if he doesn’t get onto Kvyat’s pace might find himself on the way out at Red Bull completely.

    If Albon doesn’t work out it’ll put Red Bull in a really awkward position, do they then go back to Kvyat again or do they have to find a more experienced driver a la JEV/Buemi even?

  13. Somehow RBR get away with this messy and confused promotion and demotion of drivers. It cant be too long before they sub someone mid race and maintain its a hard sport. Ghasly has been woeful but I’m guessing Max even gets first dibs on the sandwiches. I watched a great interview with Prost by Steve Ryder just yesterday. He said that perhaps 80% of driving, at that level, is psychological, real or perceived. And that was Prost who was at the time a multiple world champion. To be a number 1 driver is tough but maybe being number 2 is even harder.

    1. Red Bull has consistently given young drivers a shot though, & that has to be commended. They have the luxury of being able to directly compare driver data across both teams, & as a result they don’t waste time with a driver if they feel someone else in the stable will do a better job (doesn’t always work out, though… see Kvyat). The expectations in that team will always be high: Vettel was on it immediately when he got called up. So was Ricciardo… so was Max. That’s the reality that’s been writing all over the proverbial wall. I feel terrible for Gasly (I was one of those who actually had high hopes for him doing well) but the fact remains that after half a season he’s not shown any significant improvement (and has only looked competitive after copying Max’s setup). It certainly doesn’t help his case that Max in the other car is always qualifying near the sharp end & fighting the Mercs & Ferraris for Podiums & wins while Gasly is busy scrapping for points with the Mclarens & Haas cars.

      1. Torro Rosso is becoming RBR (Red Bull Rejects)!!!!!

      2. I am with Red Bull on this one. It is about 10’s of millions in constructor’s money. It is business, not a popularity contest. if you made it to Formula 1, you are very good. But if you can’t drive like the car wants you to, time to move on. Sorry, the car was designed for Max, and it looks like Gasly’s style doesn’t suit it. Gotta try some else. Kyvatt has shown to be a good reserve driver for RBR. Keep him warmed up at Toro Rosso for when he is needed.

        Curious if Albon will dig the private jet travel. Gotta be a perk worth savoring.

  14. charlie (@dorisrcharlie)
    12th August 2019, 18:41


    Also, incorrect:
    “While he did out-qualify Verstappen once in Canada, this came about because Verstappen’s final run was spoiled by a red flag” – The 1st and 2nd sector times of max in his last lap in Q2, which were his fastests, were slower than those of PG. So whether he would’ve been quicker, is not likely at all.

    And why no mentioning of the fact that max prevented PG to do a 2nd flying lap in Q3 in China?

    Lastly, it’s also telling and funny to see that circumstances like a red flag are mentioned in this instance, but last year when comparing RIC with max in the team mate battles, similar instances, all which hindered RIC, were not. I recall the no running of RIC in FP3 in CHI and Q1 until the very last second, the forbidden triple maneuver of max in AZE after the team also got RIC behind max by means of strategy in the first place, the quali and race set-up mishap in FRA and broken wing in the race, the not-returning-the-favour-of-giving-a-tow in quali in AUT, the malfunctioning DRS in quali GBR and giving the right strategy in the race for max and wrong for RIC, the grid penalties in GER, ITA, RUS, BRA, the lower REN-spec in quali in HUN and BEL, the red flag and subsequent rain in HUN, and yet again a strategy given to RIC to get max in front of him in ABU, for the 3rd or 4th time minimum, counting only last year, while the opposite never happened.
    All these events were never mentioned or heavily trivialized in those team mate battles.
    Now one happened at the expense of max. Tech DNF of GAS is not BTW when stating “Gasly contributed just 63 points, barely more than 25% of the team’s total.”
    Funny indeed.

    1. but last year when comparing RIC with max in the team mate battles, similar instances, all which hindered RIC, were not

      this sounds like a frustrated RIC fan, bending reality to make a point ;)

      Funny indeed.

  15. This decision reaffirms by belief that RB doesn’t care about its young drivers. If they did, they wouldn’t put Albon in this position. A team that cares about developing its drivers would put them in the BEST possible position to succeed, and you absolutely have to admit that Albon jumping into the RB mid-season against an on fire Max isn’t the best position compared to, say, putting Albon in there at the start of next season. The second scenario is best for Albon.

    I sincerely hope that Albon really likes the RB’s characteristics and is much closer to Max than Gasly was. Albon likely can’t do much worse. This is probably RB’s rationale, but thinking this way isn’t to the best career interests of the driver (Albon); it is to the best interest of RB.

    Also, for those of you who suggest that Sainz would be a great fit alongside Max, you must have forgotten how bitterly these two failed to get along in a midfield team. Let’s see them working harmoniously together near the front, fighting for podiums.

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