Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, Interlagos, 2019

2019 F1 driver rankings #13: Pierre Gasly

2019 F1 season review

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If anyone had a season of two halves it was Pierre Gasly. Or, to put it another way, what a difference a change of chassis makes.

He started the season in a Red Bull and ended it in a Toro Rosso. At mid-season, the senior team decided it could no longer endure the weak results he was getting in an RB15 which Max Verstappen was winning races with. Gasly was consistently the last driver among the top three teams to reach the chequered flag, often lagged behind a midfielder or two, and at times was even lapped by Verstappen.

The first sign of how tough things were going to be for Gasly came when he failed to progress beyond Q1 in Melbourne. Improvements came slowly: Gasly took sixth in China, but over a minute behind Verstappen, having made an extra pit stop to score the fastest lap bonus points. Spain and Monaco were better, though in Austria he finished a lap behind his race-winning team mate.

Silverstone raised hopes that the solution had been found: Gasly followed Verstappen’s lead on set-up, produced his most convincing race of 2019 to that point, and was even the first Red Bull home after Sebastian Vettel rear-ended Verstappen.

Pierre Gasly

Beat team mate in qualifying7/20
Beat team mate in race5/19
Races finished19/21
Laps spent ahead of team mate310/1211
Qualifying margin (to Kvyat)-0.2s

It didn’t last. He went off three times in four laps in Germany, then retired after tangling with Alexander Albon – the driver destined to replace him. Hungary was another horror show: He followed Carlos Sainz Jnr’s McLaren home. At that point Red Bull gave their damning verdict on Gasly’s dozen starts for them.

Gasly left the Hungaroring a Red Bull driver and returned, glumly, at Spa, in Toro Rosso gear. His return became unimaginably worse when, on Saturday, his childhood friend Anthoine Hubert was killed during a Formula 2 race.

Showing great fortitude, Gasly fought on and scored points in his first race back at his old team, despite a brief off at Les Combes. That kick-started a much better second part of the season.

[icon2019autocoursempu]By this point in the season the Toro Rosso was usually good enough for no better than the fringes of the top 10, and when Gasly didn’t make it into Q3 the benefit of starting fresher tyres played into his hands. This was the case at Singapore and would have been so in Abu Dhabi had he not been hit by Lance Stroll on lap one.

Gasly coped superbly with suspension damage in Japan to boost his points tally further, inherited another top 10 finish when he team mate rammed Nico Hulkenberg in Mexico, but the best came at Interlagos. In qualifying Gasly left Kvyat behind, then led the midfield as he pleased all race. When the front-runners started tripping over each other, that opened the door for him to take a magnificent second place.

Against all expectations, a driver whose F1 days appeared to be numbered at mid-season, had demonstrated exactly why Red Bull had given him a chance in the first place.

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Over to you

What’s your verdict on Pierre Gasly’s 2019 season? Which drivers do you feel he performed better or worse than? Have your say in the comments.

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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 “2019 F1 driver rankings #13: Pierre Gasly”

  1. Terrible first half, good to very good second half.
    Maybe a bit too high on the list. Tough call, though.

    1. Keith ranked Gasly 18th in the first half of the season, so the implication is that for a composite rank of 13th he must think Gasly was the 8th best driver in the second half. Certainly a defensible position, even if you don’t agree entirely.

  2. The more i see this ranking the more i am happy for Russell.
    Although, when i first thought about the ranking, i just couldnt wrap my head around comparing Kimi, Pierre and Russell.

    1. Don’t know how Kimi is so high, to be honest. In a pretty strong field, he had a relatively good start but, in the end, was losing too consistently to an almost-rookie who isn’t all that talented.

      1. @magon4, was there actually much of a change in performance between the first half and second half of the season between Giovinazzi and Kimi?

        In the first 11 races, Kimi outqualified Giovinazzi six times (excluding China, where Giovinazzi couldn’t participate due to mechanical issues) and finished ahead of Giovinazzi nine times. Giovinazzi had one DNF in that period due to spinning out of the British GP, and beat Kimi once at the Canadian GP.

        In the final 10 races, Kimi outqualified Giovinazzi four times – had he not crashed out of qualifying during the Italian GP and been forced to start from the pit lane, it would have been five times in Kimi’s favour. In terms of race finishing order, Kimi beat Giovinazzi seven times and had two DNF’s, with Giovinazzi beating him only at the Italian GP – where it could be argued that was more down to the combination of a pit lane start and a 10 second stop-go penalty for Kimi due to using the wrong tyres at the start of the race.

        That doesn’t seem to suggest that Kimi “was losing too consistently to an almost-rookie” – yes, Giovinazzi’s qualifying performance was better in the latter half, but Kimi was still beating him by a pretty similar margin in the races in the latter half of the season as he was in the first half.

        1. great points.

  3. Against all expectations, a driver whose F1 days appeared to be numbered at mid-season, had demonstrated exactly why Red Bull had given him a chance in the first place.

    I’m probably mistaken, but doesn’t this describe Gasly’s performance through a good chunk of his junior career – frequent bouts of mediocrity until he’s threatened with the boot, only to turn in some good performances that *just* save his skin?

  4. I was very critical and shocked at how poor Gasly’s first half of the season was. Despite the occasional good results in 2018, I never really rated him. But seeing him convincingly beat Kvyat in a chassis he had never driven before, I’m happy to eat my words and see what’s coming for the future with Gasly. Besides, Albon was not that much more impressive the Red Bull either, although he did show more nerve than Gasly when dealing with the midfield.

    1. Agreed about Albon. Pace was similar, but he was just much better in the races, to be honest. And that is something.

  5. But as good as his 2nd half was it has dammed him into a mid field career for how ever long it lasts. By all accounts the RB had a very narrow operating window but like a thorough-bred if you could unlock it you could go much quicker. As Coulthard said to Norris, the nearer the front of the grid you go, the less forgiving the cars are to being hustled. Only a few drivers ever get the chance in a top car and he has blown his.

  6. Redemption Gasly….my favorite comeback of the decade.
    I love athletes who get crushed, humiliated
    and torn to pieces, who, like Rocky Balboa, are able to recoup and find the strength to come back in a glorious manner.
    His Brazil scream still gives me goosebumps.
    I personally would have ranked him higher, but 13th, can live with it.

  7. Really wish Gasly had done better this year when he was at Red Bull. He will be stuck in the midfield forever now. Fair ranking

  8. Gasly’s season is the best example of how it’s not just whether a driver is fast, but it’s fast in a particular way. Give a fast driver a fast car and the result is sometimes not fast, if the two aren’t compatible. It’s why it’s not a perfect test to compare teammates just because they have the same car. It’s why I’d still say Vettel isn’t necessarily worse than he used to be, it’s more that the Ferrari just isn’t as good a fit for his style.

    I’m glad Gasly is getting more time to prove himself.

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