By R. Behar
For those of you not aware Formula 1 is a brutal sport. With only 20 driver seats available the fight to guarantee a seat is ruthless. Unfortunately, Formula 1 is not a fair game, money, influence, and connections are as important in guaranteeing a seat as skill. Pierre Gasly is one driver that has fallen victim to such type of injustice.
The French driver began his Formula 1 career in 2017 driving for Red Bull racing’s second team, Scuderia Toro Rosso. In 2018 he showed glimpses of brilliance with a series of top performances, including an impressive 4th place finish in Bahrain and a 6th place finish in Hungary. By 2019 however, in a turn of events Red Bull’s experienced and beloved driver, Daniel Ricciardo, left the team to join Renault. The second Red Bull seat was vacant. With only 21 races into his career, the Frenchman was suddenly thrust into the second Red Bull seat. With expectations of immediate success stifling, the pressure on Gasly’s shoulders proved to be unbearable. His success from the previous year did not carry onto his stretch with Red Bull; his best performance was an unimpressive 4th place in Silverstone. Consequently, Gasly was replaced midseason by Alex Albon. He returned to his original seat in Toro Rosso having missed the opportunity of a lifetime. Red Bull would come to regret this decision.
Ever since his demotion the gears have shifted for the flying Frenchman. In 2020 Pierre made significant progress with an amazing performance in the Italian Grand Prix. Starting from 10th position in Monza, the fastest of F1 tracks, was not the greatest of scenarios. In a turn of events Gasly has some good fortune in the form of a yellow flag. As all cars in front of Gasly pitted, he was left in the front row of the race. A combination of luck and skill allowed to Gasly pulled off one of the most impressive feats in Formula 1 history. He’d won the Italian Grand prix in the 7th best car of the grid. Alpha Tauri’s sister team, Red Bull, did not achieve the same success as neither Red Bull’s achieved a podium. This success reverberated into the 2021 season where Gasly has proven he is one of the most talented drivers of the grid. With 8 top 6 finishes Gasly continues to prove his worth becoming one of the most consistent F1 drivers. Having been cast aside and amply criticised, Gasly persevered and is currently shocking the Formula 1 world.
After this quick drive through history, we can begin to play with the different possibilities for Gasly and his future after 2019. The most common question that arises is what would’ve happened if Red Bull kept Gasly into the 2020 season? Would he continue to crumble under the pressure, or would he thrive? I am in no way an expert of the sport, but I truly believe that Pierre found himself overwhelmed by what was expected of him in the Red Bull environment. It had been only one season since he’d started racing Formula 1 that he was promoted to a powerhouse team. The expectations of frequent podiums were too demanding of any driver entering their second year. In that type of environment and with those expectations drowning him, he’d never thrive. We could argue that Gasly’s demotion acted in his favour, however. Returning to Alpha Tauri was taking a step back. The expectations, toxicity and demands were all lowered. Gasly was able to mature, act on his mistakes and grow mentally and physically. The success Gasly is experiencing now is a result of the hardships he’s had to endure, as his hard work and resilience are currently paying off. We can only hope that once Pierre Gasly’s contract with Alpha Tauri ends in 2023, he is given an opportunity to drive a car worthy of his talents.