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Red Bull: The one that got away - Pierre Gasly's story

Updated: Nov 14, 2021


Pierre Gasly's story into Formula One is one of sheer emotion, determination and redemption. Let's take a look into the high's and low's that shaped the young French driver.


In Formula One, there is an abundance of different stories as to how world-famous drivers came to be. With each journey full of twists and turns, both on and off track, it is an honour as an audience member to see drivers work their way through the ranks, lead their first lap or gain that first podium. Yet, no drivers' story sticks out quite as much as Pierre Gasly's.


Starting karting at the age of 10 in France, Gasly grew up around motorsports and dreamed of being in Formula One throughout his whole life.


In 2009, he entered into a French racing school program in Le Mans for French children that were missing a significant amount of school due to karting at high levels. Thus, at the age of just 13, Gasly moved from his home in Rouen to live on the schools campus and pursue his dream of becoming a Formula One racing driver.


"I'm an all-in type of guy... I either do something 100% or not at all." said Gasly for The Players Tribune.

Throughout his time at the Le Mans campus, Gasly and fellow karting racer Anthoine Hubert were the only French boys that shared an intense passion for careers in F1. Despite disbelief from their peers, Pierre and Anthoine's passion brought them closer together, spending all their time together, supporting each other, and soon becoming best friends.


Later, Gasly would make his way from the junior formula to Formula One. In 2018, he scored a seat with Toro Rosso. The young driver had eyes on him from the beginning, especially after finishing P4 at that years Bahrain Grand Prix. He would then go on to deliver consistent results, finishing P7 in Monaco and P6 in Hungary.


Such results were promising to the Red Bull team that were in need of a replacement, with recent news of their beloved Aussie driver Daniel Ricciardo moving to Renault for the new season.


Thus, in 2019, Gasly secured a seat at Red Bull alongside Max Verstappen. For Gasly, this moment was significant in proving to those who doubted him at school, that he was made to be in F1. Alongside Pierre's impressive achievement, his best friend Anthoine secured a place with Renault Sport Academy, receiving full backing from the academy.


"His success meant a lot to me, and I know that mine meant a lot to him." stated Pierre Gasly.


Having seen the success of drivers like four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel at the team, Gasly was beyond hopeful that his time at Red Bull would allow him to take the steps to achieve similar results and grow.


"They had won so many Championships and Sebastian Vettel had been such an inspiration to me as a kid - I knew I wanted to drive like him one day." stated Gasly.


However, he quickly realised that this wasn't going to be the case, after a crash during pre-season testing in Barcelona.


"From the moment I made my first mistake in a car, I felt like people there slowly began to turn on me. I had a crash during Winter testing and from that moment on the season never really got going."

Pierre was struggling to find harmony with the more complicated Red Bull car, with the first half of the season being filled with crashes and slow pace compared to his teammate Verstappen. Mid-way through the season, Red Bull decided they had enough. Gasly would then be replaced by up-and-coming driver Alex Albon, which was a harsh blow for Pierre.


Pierre believed he was not being given the correct tools to succeed at RB, despite working his hardest.


"I would try to offer solutions, but my voice wasn't heard, or it would take weeks to see changes." stated Pierre.


When news came out about the French drivers demotion back to Toro Rosso, his best friend Anthoine offered encouragement to get Pierre back on his feet:


"Prove them wrong. Be strong, bro. You're going to show them you deserve your seat in a top team and prove them wrong."


However, soon after on 31 August 2019, Pierre's world would turn upside down.


Anthoine Hubert was involved in a serious crash at the 2019 Spa FIA Formula Two round. He would be rushed to hospital but would later die from his injuries. As a tribute to Anthoine, on 1 September, all F1 cars racing at Spa had his #19 and his initials on the inside and the words "Racing for Anthoine".

- The insignia that appeared on the inside of the F1 cars.


One wouldn't blame Pierre for hanging up his helmet right there - having experienced two significant life changes in such a short amount of time. However, Anthoine's death would be a significant turning point in Pierre's life. As he wanted to honour his best friend, Gasly pushed forward with his Formula One career and would soon go on to secure a podium with Toro Rosso. At none other than the Spa-Francorchamps track.


"That moment was our moment." - Gasly

Fast forward to the current year, and Gasly is still delivering consistent results with the Red Bull sister team. He is currently 9th in the drivers' standings with 86 points, with just 4 races left. Furthermore, the driver has made it past Q2 in every race so far and has an average finish of P7.5 in every race - impressive stuff considering the mid-level car AlphaTauri provide him with.


Despite this, AlphaTauri appears to be the only option for Pierre in 2022, with every other F1 team having announced their seats for next season. Is he to wait around for Red Bull to pick him up again in 2023? Is it time to look elsewhere for a higher level spot in Formula One?


After all, with the promising juniors Red Bull has - such as Liam Lawson and Juri Vips (both F2 drivers) - Gasly may still have competition.


Needless to say though, Gasly's motorsport journey is one of heartbreak, emotion, determination and eventual redemption - and it's not yet over. It is an honour to watch how he has progressed since the beginning and is truly some inspirational stuff. In the end, it is Red Bull's loss.


Pierre Gasly is doing exactly what Anthoine told him to do - "Prove them wrong."



 

You can read all about Pierre Gasly's journey from the man himself here.





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