2019 has been a tough season for Pierre Gasly. After a great career in the junior Formulas and a convincing debut in the Toro Rosso’s lineup, the Frenchman started the year as a Red Bull driver.
His first appereance during the pre-season tests in Barcelona didn’t go as planned, with the #10 crashing his car twice: “I think that obviously it was very tough for Pierre coming into the start of the season off the back of two accidents in pre-season and that I think definitely affected his confidence” explains Christian Horner. And indeed an underperforming first half of the championship followed suit.
“Of course, being the team mate to Max Verstappen is a very tough job to have, having that reference point...” but being outscored by the Dutchman 11 to 1 was way beyond everyone’s predictions.
Having scored just about one third of the team-mate’s championship points (63 to 181) built a massive media and public pressure on the young driver.
The Red Bull team, at that point, chose to hit two birds with one stone by testing rookie driver Alex Albon on a Red Bull car and demoting Gasly to a team less under the spot light, in order to build his confidence back.
Just ahead of the belgian GP, the seat swap became a thing, in what Christian Horner still sees a good call for everyone: “Obviously we felt that with the pressure building on him, the public pressure, the media scrutiny, it was right to remove him from that and put him into the slightly less pressured environment of Toro Rosso.”
Indeed since then Pierre Gasly has been proving again the talent he is well-known for: the Frenchman, driving for the midfield runner Toro Rosso team, managed to put in the bag five point finishes and a historical podium in just eight races.
“Since that switch –Horner aknowledges- I think he has driven again exceptionally well. You can see his confidence is growing. He’s driven some very strong races and his pace is getting better and better. He looks happier in that environment, which is good to see.”
Now the battle is on the go: with just the Abu Dhabi GP left, Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz are even on points (95) and Alex Albon is on the hunt of that sixth championship place as well, on 84 points.
🗣️" It’s the last race of the season so it’s a special weekend. It’s going to be very important for all of us at Toro Rosso as we want to finish as high as possible in the Constructors’ Championship."— Toro Rosso (@ToroRosso) November 26, 2019
Pierre's full quote 👉 https://t.co/cNYYyBMskC pic.twitter.com/v7FMTs3lzM