Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019

Red Bull dropped Gasly because he was “struggling with the pressure” – Horner

2019 F1 season

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Christian Horner has explained why Red Bull decided to replace Pierre Gasly with Alexander Albon just 12 races into his first season with the team.

Following the last race in Hungary Horner said the team intended to keep Gasly in place until the end of the year. But a little over a week later they announced Gasly had been replaced by Albon.

“We took a bit of time to reflect after Hungary,” Horner told Sky. “Hungary was obviously a tough weekend for Pierre.

“We came to a conclusion that it was almost fairer for Pierre and from a team perspective, to say ‘we’re in a unique position where we’ve got four cockpits in Formula 1, let’s take the pressure off him.’

“He was obviously struggling with that pressure. The situation was getting worse and worse and compounding itself. [We decided] to give him time to rebuild himself in Toro Rosso, to give Alex the chance.

“We know Danny Kvyat, we know him very well, we see his potential. But with Alex we’ve seen his potential as well with the simulator running he’s been doing and so on. [So we decided] to take these nine races to evaluate him between now and the end of the year to decide who’s going to be Max [Verstappen’s] team mate for next year.”

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Albon ended the first practice session within a tenth of a second of Verstappen. Horner said he was impressed with his new driver’ first effort in a different car.

“I think the characteristics, speaking to Alex, they’re pretty different cars. Aerodynamically, the characterises are very different. About the only similarity is the engine but even the way we used the engines between the teams is different.

“So [it’s] very different for him so I was hugely impressed to see him jump in and adapt. He’s a very intelligent young driver. I think using that intelligence, using the preparation he’s done in the simulator, he’s done a really good job in his first outing.”

Horner said the team’s first option for Verstappen’s team mate for the 2020 F1 season will be to use either Albon, Gasly or Kvyat. However he did not rule out bringing in a driver from outside the Red Bull young driver programme, such as Nico Hulkenberg.

“Obviously it depends how things pan out over the next few races. Ideally we’re going to be looking within that pool of three.

“If [Hulkenberg’s] on the market which obviously he is – is he going to be a Haas drive next year – we’d prefer to take one from the three that we have.”

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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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13 comments on “Red Bull dropped Gasly because he was “struggling with the pressure” – Horner”

  1. Dr. Marko’s explanation in three specific key points: ”Problems in traffic, loses places, can’t overtake.”

  2. that it was almost fairer for Pierre and from a team perspective, to say ‘we’re in a unique position where we’ve got four cockpits in Formula 1, let’s take the pressure off him.

    I am sure glad he weaselled that almost in there to make it a bit less disingenuous.

    I read what Ricciardo had to say, and while I personally doubt it is the best way to promote young/new talent in your cars in F1, I am not the one footing the bill, nor running the team, so I can see the truth in it, and live with the change. Especially as I never got over my doubt of Gasly from even his final GP2 season.

    But Kvyat showed the risk in doing that, and how it isn’t really that much fairer to a driver to shunt in to the junior team, than to try and give him the support he needs in your own team. And while Horner is a team-leader enough to probably have considered how it impacted Gasly, I seriously doubt that the 2nd part of that sentence wasn’t the major influence.

    1. @bosyber That’s fair comment. I think we just have to keep in mind that whatever Horner says publicly he knows will get back to Gasly, so he has to be diplomatic and choose his wording carefully. I have no doubt Horner would not want to ‘destroy’ Gasly psychologically not only because he is still in one of the four cockpits, but because I don’t see Horner in life in general as some cold-hearted guy who doesn’t consider other human beings with overall kindness at heart. If some think Horner is not saying everything on this topic, is somewhat shading some truth, I can see valid reasons for that. To me it is why only about three weeks ago it was their ‘intention’ to keep Gasly for the rest of the season. It indeed was, I have no doubt, and then as he says they evaluated the situation after Hungary and decided on a different route, and I’m sure not just flippantly like there aren’t human beings with emotions involved. Let’s not forget how much they likely were trying their very best to give Gasly everything he needed to thrive in the first half, which would have included many discussions on many topics beyond just car setup.

      1. @robbie yep, as I said, I do think Horner is likely always trying to get his whole team to work as best as they can, including the drivers, giving them all the help he can organise, otherwise the team would never be the solidly successful on-track group of people they are. I still wonder how a team like that wasn’t able to at least get Gasly consistently into <= 0.5s of Verstappen's times, but, apparently it just wasn't to be, and I understand they could not afford to let that continue.

  3. So Christian, why did you lie when you said Pierre was 100% safe for the entire season after the race in Hungary?

    “We came to a conclusion that it was almost fairer for Pierre and from a team perspective, to say ‘we’re in a unique position where we’ve got four cockpits in Formula 1, let’s take the pressure off him.’ ”

    smh…. you snake.

    1. Well ok, why are you lying when you say he said Pierre was ‘100% safe?’

      1. “This year we won’t change,” he told Autosport. “We will end the season as we currently are.”
        Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko

        1. Wasn’t going to subscribe in order to read the article but suffice it to say the article you have cited was pre Hungary and pre summer break. He isn’t giving any guarantees…isn’t saying 100% safe as you have chosen to interpret it. I would say that this is similar to them saying their ‘intention’ was to keep Gasly for the season. But then Hungary happened. And then they had a calm first week of the break to reflect. Perhaps it was Hungary as well as some deep discussions with Gasly to suss out what the problems are, and upon that meeting they then changed their mind and decided there would be little harm to the team overall in evaluating Albon in real-life conditions while also trying to secure second in the WCC. It may well be that the last week of July and the first week of August had them discover things that made them change their mind. That’s their prerogative and so is not ‘snake-like.’ Hundreds of millions are being spent and they wish not to see that squandered. They have sponsors to answer to too. A bruised ego and some derogatory remarks from some armchair enthusiasts can’t get in the way of that.

    2. He was probably 100% safe at the point he made that comment…I don’t think you can fully anticipate the whims of Dr. Marko.

    3. I’d rather be a snake than a comment section crybaby…

      You guys would think redbull personally slapped the commenters around here, with the level of crybaby shown.

      It’s a private team, Pierre was TOO SLOWWWWWWWWW. I bet you also cry about f1 not having any “real racing” anymore…

      Unbelievable, this comment section is. I like redbull for remembering this is F1, not a children’s basketball league.

  4. I read “Red Bull dropped Gasly because he was struggling with tyre pressure” – Horner
    I was surprised, until read it again correctly…

  5. Duncan Snowden
    30th August 2019, 15:42

    I can understand that. He’s clearly quick, as he showed last year, but pressure to perform can have a strange effect on people, and there’s no higher-pressure team in F1 than Red Bull. Although he was told his place was secure till the end of the season, he’d be a fool if he didn’t feel the Toro Rosso drivers breathing down his neck at every session. And that just compounds the problem.

    In all honesty, although it obviously gives him a possible path back to a race-winning car, I can’t help thinking that the best thing for him would be to get out of the Red Bull system altogether, and into a team that isn’t constantly evaluating him against a horde of other drivers they already have under contract. Obviously other teams do weigh up their drivers’ performances, but there’s less immediate pressure when they can’t simply promote the latest hotshot from the junior team, or a lower category, at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, it’s probably already too late for next season.

  6. However he did not rule out bringing in a driver from outside the Red Bull young driver programme, such as Nico Hulkenberg.

    Get yourself down to the energy station pronto Nico…

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