Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Monza, 2020

Exclusive: Tost on how Gasly bounced back to become a race-winner at AlphaTauri

2020 F1 season

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Pierre Gasly’s breakthrough victory for AlphaTauri on Sunday was the surprise of the season so far.

It came a year on from a painful mid-season departure from Red Bull. For some drivers, it could have been a career-ending blow.

But Gasly’s team principal Franz Tost has seen first-hand how the driver has rebounded from that painful setback, raised his game, and put himself in a position to take advantage when a rare opportunity to beat the big teams appeared.

“He came back to us last year before Spa,” Tost recalled in an exclusive interview for RaceFans. “He came here to the office I said to him – I was joking – ‘it looks like you were here yesterday’, because we were very familiar with him. He knew the engineers, knew his mechanics.”

Tost’s first step was to get Gasly comfortable again at Toro Rosso – now AlphaTauri – the team he left before his unsuccessful stint at Red Bull.

“I just told him to completely reset, enjoy sitting in the car, enjoy driving. If you don’t like anything on the car, tell us. We’ll try to get rid of this, we want to prepare your car where you feel well, where you feel confident.”

Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019
Gasly scored points immediately after returning to Toro Rosso
Gasly’s return came on the same traumatic weekend that his childhood friend Anthoine Hubert was killed in a crash during a Formula 2 race. Nonetheless, Gasly finished in the points with ninth place.

It proved the beginning of a rapid recovery. In Brazil he took advantage of a late Safety Car period to grab an unexpected podium finish, holding Lewis Hamilton back in a thrilling sprint to the line.

“To keep Hamilton behind for one-and-a-half laps was a really hard fight,” said Tost. “And he did it very professionally and really with a lot of driving instinct to be in the right position at the right time to block a world champion like Hamilton. This was already a very good sign from his side that he has measured and he has reached another level.”

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Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Monza, 2020
Under pressure from Sainz, Gasly never put a wheel wrong
Since his bruising experience at Red Bull, Gasly has also improved how he works with the team to get the best out of the car, said Tost.

“On the technical side he always had from the beginning onwards a quite high level. From the engineering side, the co-operation with the engineers, he trusts his engineer nowadays.

“Maybe this was not so the case in earlier days. He knows now that you need a good engineer on your side. And, if the engineer says ‘we go in this direction’ and you are not the 100% convinced, try it, then you’ll see what’s coming out.

“I think he learned a lot that these guys know what to do. And all the years together make you more measured and you learn a lot.”

Tyre management remains an extremely important skill for modern F1 drivers. It’s another area where, while under pressure from Carlos Sainz Jnr for the win at Monza, Gasly demonstrated the benefits of his recent progress, Tost believes.

Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, Monza, 2008
The team’s sole previous win also came at Monza, in 2008
“What he did on Sunday was already a very high level of understanding the race. Carlos was faster in sector one – two tenths, something like this – Pierre was faster in sector two with three to four tenths and Sainz in sector three equal or a little bit better. And when Carlos came a little bit closer, he immediately reacted in sector two and showed him, please, no chance today.

“To get this together with the high speed you have in Monza, to be concentrated to the last corner, the Parabolica and bring the victory home was really very, very, challenging and a good manoeuvre from his side.”

The stunning win for the team immediately invoked comparisons with their single previous victory, scored by Sebastian Vettel when the team was called Toro Rosso, in 2008. Tost sees some similarities between the two.

“Of course under normal circumstances it’s difficult for us to win a race. Because we all know there are two Mercedes cars which are faster than us, there is Red Bull faster than us and I suppose you’d say currently McLaren and Racing Point doing a very good job. Renault is not far away, we are close to them. And therefore it’s difficult to beat all of these cars to win a race.

Pierre Gasly, Franz Tost, Bahrain, 2018
Gasly delivered a a strong fourth for Tost’s team at Bahrain in 2018
“But if all the circumstances work into our hands and if we are there – and this we did 2008 and 2020 as well in Monza – then we can win a race.

“The package was, in 2008 in Monza, quite [good]. We had a really good car, we had a fantastic engine in those days as well. And there are many parallels with a really high-skilled driver, a good car and a very competitive power unit with Honda. And Pierre Gasly did a fantastic job as a driver. And these are the ingredients that you are in the position to win the race.”

Gasly’s breakthrough win followed a series of strong performances. However the circumstances of Sunday’s race undoubtedly played in his favour: He pitted moments before a Safety Car deployment which closed the pit lane, handing him a strategic advantage.

But, as Tost points out, a similar scenario worked against them just one week earlier in Belgium.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Monza, 2020
Tost expects to have more to celebrate later this year
“In Spa without the Safety Car he 100% would have finished in fifth position because we had a very good speed there. He was with the pace, on a very good strategy.

“But then unfortunately, the Safety Car came out, the pit lane was not closed like in Monza, and the others had a pit stop for nothing, they gained 20 seconds. Norris was far behind Pierre before the pit stop and after the pit stop, crossed over in front.”

With the gains Gasly has made, Tost believes he has the potential to produce more eye-catching results over the coming rounds.

“We have a good package together. I expect also some good races in the second half of the season.”

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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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21 comments on “Exclusive: Tost on how Gasly bounced back to become a race-winner at AlphaTauri”

  1. A race win, yes. But is it likely to be repeated, ever?

    1. Is that the point of this article?

      1. @pastaman I guess the question is whether he got the win because he actually improved or because of a lucky pit stop which moved him from P10 to P2.

    2. They said that in 2008 too so answer is yes it can be repeated again.

  2. Good on PG for getting down to business upon his return to TR/AT. This win, even though unique, is going to propel him confidence wise, and that’s just great.

    As one that doesn’t buy into the rhetoric about a systemic bad atmosphere at RBR, I was hoping to get a clue in the above article as to what happened at RBR, and it sounds like what I had thought I had picked up on during his stint at RBR. PG wasn’t ready to work with and trust engineers that were suggesting things and trying things that PG just couldn’t quite wrap his head around. I just always felt, again because I really don’t think RBR makes these decisions lightly, that PG must have needed some more growth time. That it had to be something we weren’t seeing from our armchairs. I don’t believe for one second Horner or Marko were flippant with his feelings but just came to the conclusion that the decision they made was for the best. I understand they sort of shocked him with what was a surprise phone call to PG, which sounded unfair, but I wonder if that was better than them dropping hints and him spending several weeks with a foreboding feeling and his confidence even more shaken…bit like a bandage torn off rather than slowly peeled. Just speculating of course.

    Anyway, couldn’t be happier for PG and I hope and trust he will grow exponentially from this experience.

  3. Great read, Tost really is a likable chap.
    Just a correction, didn’t Gasly finish 8th at Spa 2019?

      1. Oops, thanks James. My apologies RFs.

  4. By giving him preferential treatment over Kvyat every Race?

  5. Tost’s first step was to get Gasly comfortable again at Toro Rosso – now AlphaTauri – the team he left before his unsuccessful stint at Red Bull.

    “I just told him to completely reset, enjoy sitting in the car, enjoy driving. If you don’t like anything on the car, tell us. We’ll try to get rid of this, we want to prepare your car where you feel well, where you feel confident.”

    Do we need a better description of what is missing at Red Bull?

    1. True, that’s what I thought too.

      1. As if that’s not how it started off for PG at RBR too.

  6. How did Gasly become a winner? The race leader was given a 32 second penalty. That’s how.

    1. yes, but when life gives you lemons, not everyone can make lemonade

      1. He wasn’t given a lemon, he was handed the race lead. But he did a great job of keeping that lead and denying Sainz a win.

    2. so it should be Stroll who was P2, or Sains second strongest car in Monza or Bottas who has fastest car in last 7 years

    3. Even a 2nd place would be impressive for toro rosso and gasly’s best result.

  7. It is awards that no Williams or Ferrari engine team were mentioned in this report.

  8. This only proved that Gasly could thrive in Alpha Tauri because of its environment.
    Unless Dietrich Mateschitz demote Horner and put Franz Tost in Red Bull.

    1. And then there would still be the pressure of being on a top team with Max for PG to deal with.

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