Pierre Gasly was handed his Formula 1 debut with Toro Rosso at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix, the 15th race of the year, though at one stage he had been hopeful of beginning the season with Red Bull’s junior team.
Pierre Gasly biography
Birthplace: Rouen, France
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Gasly was in his fourth year on Red Bull’s junior driver team. He began his car racing career in French Formula 4 at the age of 15, finishing third in the championship, then moved into Formula Renault 2.0.
His breakthrough came in his second FR2.0 Eurocup campaign. Gasly prevailed in a close and sometimes acrimonious season-long battle with Oliver Rowland. The pair collided at Moscow Raceway and at the Barcelona season finale, and Rowland’s penalty for the latter collision sealed the title for Gasly.
As well as gaining €500,000 towards a Formula Renault 3.5 drive, Gasly also attracted the attention of Red Bull. They placed him in their young driver programme alongside Carlos Sainz Jnr and Alex Lynn.
For 2014 Gasly was placed at Arden in FR3.5. He finished runner-up to Sainz in the title battle thanks to a series of consistently strong finishes, though he ended the year without a win.
Gasly also dipped a toe in GP2 waters and the following year switched to the series full-time with DAMS. For the second year in a row he endured a winless campaign, and was eighth in the standings. However Red Bull kept their faith, and Gasly had his first F1 tests with their secondary team Toro Rosso.Antonio Giovinazzi did the double in Baku, firmly putting Gasly in the shade by overtaking him despite having a broken Drag Reduction System.
Another victory shot passed Gasly by when he spun off in wet conditions at the Red Bull Ring. His breakthrough finally came at Silverstone, though the weekend started badly when he was involved in a road car crash on the way to the circuit in which his mother was injured. An untimely red flag arguably cost him pole position, but in the race he outmanoeuvred Norman Nato and won.
Victories in two of the next three feature races strengthened Gasly’s cause. Giovinazzi was still in touch, however, and at Monza the Safety Car cost Gasly a likely win which went to his team mate instead.
They arrived at the season finale with Giovinazzi seven points ahead. But Gasly shrugged off the pressure to win the opening race from pole position, and with Giovinazzi unable to rise higher the sixth in the final race, the title was Gasly’s.
The possibility of an early promotion to F1 had been a distraction for Gasly in the latter stages of 2016. At one point he even suggested to a French journalist he was on the verge of being promoted to Toro Rosso in place of the struggling Daniil Kvyat. However the team put Gasly’s ambitions on hold, re-signed Kvyat for another year, and sent the new GP2 champion to Japan’s Super Formula championship.
Gasly got to grips with the unfamiliar tracks and high-performance cars quickly. He took just five races to claim his first win, at Motegi, and added another at Autopolis thanks in part to a well-judged tyre strategy. Second place at Sugo left him half a point off the championship lead with just the final two races at Suzuka remaining. But they were cancelled due to Typhoon Lan, confining Gasly to the runner-up spot.
During 2017 Gasly also made an appearance as a substitute driver in Formula E, taking the place of championship leader Sebastien Buemi at Renault. He finished both races in New York ahead of the team’s regular driver Nicolas Prost and scored a best result of fourth place.
Meanwhile Kvyat was continuing to struggle at Toro Rosso. At the Singapore Grand Prix the team confirmed Sainz would join Renault the following year, and in Sunday’s race Kvyat crashed out. With an eye on their driver plans for 2018, Toro Rosso announced Gasly would make his F1 debut for them alongside Sainz at the next race in Malaysia.
His first weekend in the championship, having never done a Friday practice run before, was no disaster as Gasly reached Q2 and qualified one place behind team mate Sainz in 15th. He finished a lapped 14th on Sunday, but was only 7.905 seconds adrift of the final point scorer in tenth.
Gasly finished 13th in his next two F1 races, missing the United States Grand Prix due to Super Formula’s finale being on the same weekend, and finished a personal best 12th place at Interlagos.
Toro Rosso switched to Honda engines for 2018, and Gasly starred while team mate Brendon Hartley – who also debuted late in the 2017 campaign – tended to struggle.
After qualifying last and retiring with a power unit issue in the season opener, Gasly bounced back in round two at Bahrain to qualify fifth and finish fourth. His next points-earning result was a seventh place in Monaco, round six of the year, then started the second half of the season by finishing sixth at the Hungaroring. Only three more points were scored over the remaining nine races, and all but one of his points finishes over the year came from races where he started in the top ten. The exception was in Mexico City where he started last due to several penalties and came through to finish tenth.
Daniel Ricciardo’s departure to Renault left a vacancy alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull for 2019, and Gasly was promoted into the seat Ricciardo departed.
It was once again a tricky season start for Gasly in Australia, as he qualified 17th while his team mate was fourth. Following lap one contact, Gasly was only able to make it up to eleventh place in the race.
A Bahrain bounceback didn’t quite happen this time around, as Gasly qualified 13th – behind Ricciardo and one of the Toro Rossos – and finished a distant eighth in the race.
He reached Q3 next time out in Shanghai, starting and finishing sixth as well as setting the race’s fastest lap, but there was more woe to come. In Baku he was excluded from qualifying then retired from the race with a driveshaft failure, he matched his Shanghai results at Barcelona, got penalised in Monaco qualifying but recovered to finish fifth with fastest lap, and was lapped in the next three races.
At Silverstone his pit crew set a new world record for the fastest pit stop – timed at 1.91s – and finally matched his best race result of the season before. But Gasly only lasted two more races with Red Bull before being demoted back down to Torro Rosso. He swapped places with Alex Albon, who he had a race-ending collision with at Hockenheim.
Once Gasly returned to Torro Rosso, he actually continued to be a consistent points scorer. He scored five times in nine races, reaching Q3 four consecutive times and converting sixth on the grid into a maiden F1 podium at Interlagos where he beat Lewis Hamilton to second place in a photo finish before Hamilton was penalised five seconds for colliding with Albon.
The podium lifted Gasly past Albon into seventh in the points table, but it wasn’t enough for Red Bull to change their mind about who should drive where.
But Gasly looked even stronger at the renamed AlphaTauri team when the delayed 2020 season began. He scored in 12 of that year’s 17 races, made Q3 11 times, and with a well-timed pit stop and almost half a race of defending earned his first win at Monza.
Putting AlphaTauri on the podium’s top step in a season when Red Bull only won two times was still not enough for Gasly to earn a promotion, and he stayed in his seat for 2021.
That year AlphaTauri had their most competitive and highest-scoring campaign since 2008, the year in which the team’s only other grand prix win was claimed, and this time Gasly scored 15 times in a record 22-round season to come ninth in the standings with 110 points. There were five top-five finishes, including a visit to the podium in Baku, and had an average Sunday starting position higher than eighth despite a crash in ‘Sprint qualifying’ at Monza putting him to the back of the grand prix grid.
A Red Bull move was still not on the horizon, meaning Gasly spent a sixth successive year in AlphaTauri’s ranks for 2022, with only title contenders Hamilton (Mercedes) and Verstappen (Red Bull) having spent longer at their respective teams. A far more difficult campaign awaited Gasly and AlphaTauri, and he scored 23 of the team’s measly tally of 35 points. Only Williams scored less, and the team’s best result was Gasly’s fifth place in Baku.
A contract was signed for 2023, but moves elsewhere on the grid freed up a seat at Alpine and AlphaTauri released Gasly so he could pursue it. Alpine successfully signed Gasly, and he finished ninth in his first two races with the French brand.
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