Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Sochi Autodrom, 2020

2020 F1 driver rankings #6: Pierre Gasly

2020 F1 season review

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Pierre Gasly ended the year with a comfortable lead over experienced team mate Daniil Kvyat in the points, having out-scored the other AlphaTauri driver 75 to 32, a ratio of more than two to one.

Of course one-third of Gasly’s points came with that a windfall result at Monza, where he took advantage of a conveniently-timed race suspension to score a shock win. But while this fortunate result inflated the gap between him and Kvyat at the end of the season, it probably didn’t exaggerate it by very much.

Gasly was consistently the quicker of the two, making 12 appearances in Q3 to Kvyat’s four. Indeed, with better luck on Gasly’s part, the points gap between the pair could have been even larger.

He was on course for his second-best result of the season at Imola when a power unit problem forced him out. Kvyat went on to finish fourth, the position Gasly qualified in, after his team mate’s retirement.

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Imola, 2020
Imola was less generous to Gasly than Monza
While that was the only race retirement Gasly suffered due to a technical fault, he was also prevented from setting a time in Q3 in Hungary due to a car problem, and copped a grid penalty at Istanbul when the team began a power unit change which it then failed to complete. His only other non-classification came the week after his Monza triumph, when he was eliminated in a first-lap collision at Mugello.

Despite this he amassed enough points to end the season tied on points with Lance Stroll, who had a considerably quicker car at his disposal.

Monza aside, the AlphaTauri was not competitive enough to lead the midfield home. Nonetheless Gasly bagged an excellent fifth place in tricky conditions at Algarve, passing Perez on the way. He was clearly frustrated at being unable to replicate anything similar at Istanbul, another race run in challenging conditions.

Pierre Gasly

Beat team mate in qualifying13/17
Beat team mate in race8/13
Races finished14/17
Laps spent ahead of team mate550/818
Qualifying margin-0.16s
Points75

However he picked up a pair of sixths at the Nurburgring and Bahrain, plus sevenths in the first races of the double-headers in Austria and Britain. Even when major points were not on the table, Gasly regularly scored, bringing home points on 10 occasions.

The most striking feature of Gasly’s season was how frequently he found himself in contention with Albon’s much faster Red Bull. With four races to go, Gasly was still within a point of the driver who replaced him in 2019.

This inevitably prompted questions about why he was dropped in the first place, and why he wasn’t able to demonstrate the same form he showed at AlphaTauri (and, previously, Toro Rosso) at Red Bull. There are surely lessons for the team to learn in how Gasly has thrived since returning to Franz Tost’s outfit.

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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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32 comments on “2020 F1 driver rankings #6: Pierre Gasly”

  1. The points difference isn’t quite as reflective when you consider that initially, Kvyat easily looked the best of the two in italy, then the safety car ruined kvyat’s strategy. Had the luck been the other way round and Kvyat had taken that win, their points would have been almost even this year.

    The points difference certainly isn’t a good way of judging them, but i still think the rankings are about right for both.

    1. @thegianthogweed I think overall Gasly was better than Kvyat. That safety car ruined Kvyat’s race and gave Gasly a chance to win the race. Rating is about right the win would have helped Kvyat’s season much more than Gasly’s. I still think Alpha Tauri would have signed Tsunoda even if Kvyat would have won.

    2. I can’t see any scenario where I would rank Gasly ahead of Perez. Gasly was solid, but not at Perez’ level. Perez had no off races

  2. Getting dropped by Red Bull is the best thing that could have happened to Gasly. He was actually a lot better than Kvyat last year when they were in Toro Rosso, and this year he was even further ahead. Clearly, he was not ready for a top team in 2019 and couldn’t handle the pressure, and the same is probably true now. Maybe in the future, he will be ready to drive for a team like Red Bull again, but for now, I think he is better off in a midfield team.

    1. Technically he wasn;t dropped by RB, he is still a RB driver…one out of 4 under contract

  3. He bounced back well after his RB demotion. 6th is a fair ranking.

    1. Yeah, its just a matter of finding the right sports for him ;-)

      1. Or perhaps the right set of F1 rules. Looking forward to 2022!

  4. He won a race, still mediocre. Maybe there are only 5 competitive drivers on the grid.

    1. Once he gets out of AlphaTauri as soon as possible he will have a better career.

    2. 4 at max. It is an area that does not get enough attention. F1 must open up to all in the junior ranks. Talent is out there, but not reaching F1. As a result we watch spoiled kids with limited talent between less than a hand full real talent. Focus is on improving the car. Ok, but how about getting some better drivers in

  5. Eventually, the win decorated a brilliant season.

    Results such as 5th, 6th and 7th were quite significant in the 2020 field. Very impressed by this youngster I first met in Formula Renault alongside Carlos Sainz Jr, Gasly was then acting for some pillows brand advert!

  6. The question that pops up again is if RBR did well by hiring Perez (#7) versus promoting Gasly (#6).
    Even though I agree that overall Gasly did better than Perez in 2020, I also think it was the right decision.

    Firstly, it is too soon for Gasly to be thrown in there again. You don’t want to burn him twice and ruin his career.
    Also it is easier having Perez as a stop gap until they find the next best driver to partner Verstappen (if they can retain the latter).
    And finally, Perez is a more mature driver (now), and more likely to accept if there is a gap to the other car and drive his own race based on his own strengths (e.g. tyre management) rather than trying to outdrive the other car to prove himself. If Perez doesn’t live up to those expectations they can still do a swap mid-season 2021.

    1. One other significant factor is that Perez is at the tail end of a long career. If he drives for RBR for a year and is then passed over for younger talent, it will likely still be nothing but good for his chances of staying in the top flight. I definitely agree that Perez will handle ‘losing’ to Verstappen better than Gasly or Albon did, for a number of reasons, not least of which being that he’s had a lot of experience of that. He’s finished below Kobayashi, Button, and Hulkenberg, though he nosed in front of Kobayashi in their second go-around, and beat Hulkenberg in 2 of 3 seasons. Even if he’s trailing, I’m sure he’ll be confident he can close the gap in a way neither Gasly nor Albon had the experience to possess.
      I am not sure promotion to RBR again for Gasly is going to be a good idea. It was, as he has openly discussed, a very traumatic experience for him. At the very least, I don’t think promoting him to a car that, given the regulation change delays, is likely to still be a handful to drive. I would hope Gasly continues to impress and perhaps becomes a contender for a 2022 or ’23 drive with a non Red Bull team on the rise. I could see Gasly and Russell being attractive for Mercedes (since I think Hamilton will retire soon and I expect Bottas to be shown the door at the end of the 2021 season), or Gasly/Ocon at Alpine if Ocon continues to improve and Alonso heads for retirement after the ’22 season.

      1. or Gasly/Ocon at Alpine if Ocon continues to improve and Alonso heads for retirement after the ’22 season.

        I think it’s more likely (and desirable IMO) ’22 Alonso/Gasly and Gasly taking over from ’23 or ’24.
        @bookgrub

    2. I just dont understand how we have come to accept what you describe about Gasly. 20 seats in the world. Step up or step out. This should not be a learning class. Not picking on Gasly in particular but the overall picture. We have way too much mediocre drivers for a sport that calls itself the pinnacle of Motorsport. FIA must put more pressure on inclusion and diversity in the lower ranks because frankly the current line-up of 20 drivers holds just 3 or 4 racers I actually want to watch. And it is not just that. These mediocre drivers with their comments on racing situations and the audience taking them over actually lower the level of engagement in the sport. We have seen it with Hamilton and with Max. They get criticism in their first years for actually doing what they are supposed to do; racing. Then they shave of the rough edges to please the rest of the field and racing director, but we all know it is not them, but the others being unable to race on their level and just not well enough understanding what a car does and can do. FIA, please make this sport available for a bigger talent pool. We have been watching 10 years of Romain Grosjean for example. Really?!

  7. Higher then Perez. 🤔 That win was an obvious gift. Also lacks the killer instinct of Max or Perez. He is very playful on Netflix does not take things serious enough.

    1. I have no issue with Gasly being ahead of Perez. Perez was pretty average through the beginning of the season (highlighted on here many times by other users). Both drivers ended up with a win, both wins earned through a slice of luck and some great driving.
      I’d be interested why you think he lacks killer instinct. Brazil 2019 and Monza 2020 have been examples of him grabbing opportunities when they have arrived

    2. Gasly’s moves on Perez at Spa and Portimao were brilliant. Both came after Perez nearly caused an accident while defending too hard. I’d urge you to reconsider the pecking order on killer instinct you mentioned.

      1. @wsrgo My view too. Form me any driver that combines brilliant and brave with moves like those gets an automatic ‘ranking boost’. It’s what we want to see, it’s risky, and deserves admiration. I also don’t think winning at Monza was at all easy. It required an excellent drive still in a slower car to stay ahead. Overall 6th is OK, but Gasly was one of the standout drivers for me this year – as in, you noticed he was on track because he was doing something different or very good a lot of the time, not just being efficient. Always a good sign.

        1. * last year, even :o?

    3. This year, i think it is fair having gasly ahead of Perez. This however does not mean that in general, he’s a better driver. I just think the first half of Perez’s season was below his usual standard – one reason stroll was in a way better than him and ahead in the standings until after russia. Ans Stroll himself was rated 15th. Don’t think Perez should be ranked higher than he has been personally.

      1. I’de argue that….
        Next season we may know more when Perez will face Verstappen as a team mate….wouldn’t be surprised Gasly is in fact an overall better driver than Perez. Perez imo isn’t exactly fast…

  8. Gasly is certainly not ‘mediocre’ (as @peartree would have it). For me he is (currently) in that grouping behind Hamilton, Verstappen and Leclerc.

    Like Perez, there is arguably a question mark hanging over him, though arguably bigger in Gasly’s case. Perez was OK at McLaren, Gasly was poor at Red Bull. However, given I rate both drivers, I see each case as an example, often underestimated in my view, of the importance of psychology to a driver’s performance.

    Hence, for example, why Alonso’s and Verstappen’s teammates often seem to do so poorly- for whatever reasons linked to the top drivers (whether it be pure ability or more), the second driver’s head drops, and then spirals from there.

    This means, however, that how Perez will do at Red Bull this year is one of the the fascinating topics of the season. And how Gasly would do at another top team (surely other than Red Bull) would be similarly interesting.

    All Gasly can do is keep on pumping in performances as of this season- which, even if you remove Monza, was an impressive one. Fingers crossed he can ‘do a Perez’ in the years to come.

    1. @alloythere Agree about Gasly. I really don’t see Perez making a dent in Verstappen’s absolute no.1 status at Red Bull, but I expect him not to completely wilt in confidence and stay a consistent few tenths behind Max in qualifying and in race pace. If he’s close or faster, I’ll be stunned, if he’s much slower, somewhat surprised, but not massively so. I’m more keen to see how Norris fares against Ricciardo, how Sainz does at Ferrari compared to Leclerc, and how Alonso and Ocon ‘get on’ (?!) as team mates, given the combination could be volatile, Alonso always keen to stamp his dominance on and off track, and Ocon not renowned for ceding. Their relative pace will also be curious. I think Alonso should still outperform Ocon, but we’ll see how time away has affected him I guess.

    2. If even Max, Charles, Albon Lando all say that Pierre is really fast when they encounter him in the lower series. He problem was he tried too hard starting with the awefull test days crashing his car on the first day i think he lost his confidence during those test days.

  9. Gasly’s redemption was one of the high points of the season. A nice counterpoint to Vettel’s collapse.

    Attitude, team, and car all contribute to success, or lack of. Funny we’ve seen both with Vettel and Gasly this season. It is a shame this can’t be explored better, it is one of the most fascinating parts of sport.

  10. I completely agree with this rating, I think he’s been amazing all year without even taking the Red Bull saga last year into consideration. The gap to Kyvat was impressive, as large as what we saw with Riccardo when he raced Kyvat. So often he’s been in and around the McLarens/Renaults/Racing Points, when the car has felt a lot slower than that.

    Sure, he had a lot of luck in Monza but he still had to take the opportunity given to him. Stroll should have won the race but he grabbed it with a great restart.
    Others were talking about Monza changing the points gap to Kyvat, but remember he retired from 4th in Imola when a podium was very much on the cards. Kyvat who was behind him finished 4th that race. There are always incidents in a season that can greatly affect the points table (especially in the lower midfield).

    The future will be interesting for Gasly, I think he will move away from the Red Bull programme in the end. He’s shown this year that he can be very fast and has good racecraft, and he seems to thrive away from that Red Bull car!

  11. Incredible season by Gasly! He pushed that car to near heights, winning at Monza, qualifying 4th at Imola. Tying on points with Stroll whose car was around 0.5 seconds faster. For me he deserves to be ranked higher like 4th/5th but anyways… I expect Tsunoda to push him further because Kvyat clearly is not at the same level

  12. Gasly only way upwards is to leave redbull, since redbull only cares about Max… perez is nice in a mercedes and bland otherwise.

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