[F1 2019 VIDEO FEATURE] PIERRE GASLY: UP AGAINST IT

Pierre Gasly continues to develop at Red Bull Racing, the Frenchman finishing eighth in Canada. His fourth top-10 result in seven starts, despite traffic and constant brake saving.

And while they are solid results, ensuring the squad builds its points haul for the constructors’ standings, there is no doubt that Red Bull wants to see Gasly take the fight to Verstappen on a regular basis.

… regardless of how difficult that will be.

SOUNDBITE (English) PIERRE GASLY,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“To be fair, at the moment I think he’s [Max Verstappen] probably the most talented guy out there. And, to race in the same team as him for me is an amazing opportunity. So I could not have asked for a better thing because I’m in my second year in F1. I still need to develop, and still need to learn a lot of things. And to have a super competitive teammate next to me will for sure push me.”

And Verstappen is enjoying his best season to date, finishing at least fourth in the first six races and podiums in Australia and Spain. Gasly’s season on-track from China, where he finished sixth.

But things came to a head in Montreal with a rumour surfacing in the media that Gasly would soon be replaced by Nico Hülkenberg. A story dismissed as “bad journalism” by all parties, including Red Bull motorsport consultant Dr Helmut Marko, who said it was “far-fetched”.

Part of the 23-year-old’s early slump was in adapting his driving style, which he has long described as aggressive, and is something that doesn’t always work behind the wheel of the tricky RB15.

SOUNDBITE (English) PIERRE GASLY,
F1 DRIVER, TORO ROSSO:
“Of course, I am kind of an aggressive driver. So I am always, I like to push to the limit. And it’s difficult for me to really calm down when I am in the car. Because, as I said I am aggressive, so I need to go the opposite way during the races.”

Gasly, though, has the mental toughness to deal with the huge pressure of being up against it in F1, something former Red Bull Racing driver Daniil Kvyat lacked in his battle against Daniel Ricciardo.

The Frenchman fearless enough to even go skydiving; taking the plunge on new challenges, which he’s done from the outset.
And it was easy to see what Gasly was looking forward to this season, after a standout rookie campaign at Red Bull’s B-team Toro Rosso.

SOUNDBITE (English) PIERRE GASLY,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“Ah, just racing. Really, you know, it’s always been my dream to be driving for Red Bull since I joined the Red Bull Junior Team in 2013 so I know [that] everything is real, I’m part of this team once won world championships in the past, [and] has been fighting for victories every season, so it’s super exciting.”

But, to beat Verstappen, Gasly will need to get a sharper edge, perhaps channel the perfection shown by his racing hero, Michael Schumacher… 

SOUNDBITE (English) PIERRE GASLY,
F1 DRIVER, RED BULL RACING:
“He’s really the one that gave me the [initial] feeling. OK, I remember I told my parents I want to be like this guy, on TV, and like just spraying [the] champagne every weekend, because he was winning almost all the races.”

So far, the stats are stacked in the Dutchman’s favour outqualifying Gasly 6-1, and 6-0 in races when they could be compared. Verstappen also has more than double the points, 88 to 36.

And those kind of skewed stats don’t make for a long career at Red Bull’s top team… especially with Alexander Albon at Toro Rosso - and Brit Dan Ticktum ready to jump into the void left behind.

It’s crunch time for Gasly. And with the pressure maxed out, as he heads to his home race at Paul Ricard, up against one of F1’s great young talents. One who even Lewis Hamilton is struggling to stay ahead of, as we saw just last month - in Monaco…