Dutch Formula 1 followers already knew him as the broken teammate of Max Verstappen in 2019: Pierre Gasly showed with weak performances that Verstappen was the boss. Halfway through last season the 24-year-old Frenchman was put aside by Red Bull Racing and traded in for Toro Rosso rider Alexander Albon.
At Alpha Tauri (the new name of Toro Rosso’s team), Gasly seemed condemned to participate anonymously in the centre run, but his sensational victory in the Italian Grand Prix suddenly made him a world star. That takes some getting used to. I don’t realise what happened yet. Everyone wants something from me. Now I know what will happen if you win an F1 race. Not for a second for myself. I was exhausted, the Frenchman says.
Gasly got his grams with the victory. What failed at top team Red Bull, happened at Alpha Tauri. The former teammate of Verstappen realises. It’s special that I’m doing it with this team. We don’t even have the fastest car in midfield. If no one is expecting it, a victory is extra nice. The downgraded Frenchman is resurrected. I feel at home with Alpha Tauri. A warm, motivated family taking big steps. The car suits me better and is getting faster and faster.
The key question is what the victory Gasly brings to the F1 transfer market. He says he isn’t working on a return to Verstappenens team. The team management has congratulated me and sent me messages. They are happy for me, but we haven’t really talked about my future. No time.
Gasly acknowledges that victory tastes like more. Of course I want to be in the fastest car, win races and become a champion. That’s the goal and it always will be.
The 109th Grand Prix winner in F1 is experiencing a hectic week. Immediately after the flag fell in Monza, he was overwhelmed with congratulations. A madhouse. My phone exploded. I slept in my flat in Milan and drove the race five more times at night. When I woke up, the cup smiled at me. Lovely. With coffee, the phone rang again. The new working week
Congratulations came from all over the world. Family, friends, other top athletes. Yes, even from ‘monsieur le president’. I saw a missed call, but fortunately Emmanuel Macron called again. Nice words in a very intense time. It was magical, but now I have to focus again on the next grand prix. I’m on a roller coaster.
Gasly had a tough time. A break-in at his home in Normandy robbed him of a large part of his metal of honour and valuable motor sport memorabilia: helmets, special watches and race overalls. Everything was turned upside down. Some people have no values. Shame.
The race weekend in Belgium at the end of August was also mentally difficult. At the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack, memories of his childhood friend who died in an accident in 2019 surfaced: Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert. The image of Gasly climbing the steep curves of Eau Rouge and Raidillon with a bouquet of emotion speaks volumes.
No wonder that almost everyone grants Gasly the surprising victory in Monza. But there is another reason, the Frenchman notices. I often hear it’s refreshing: Carlos Sainz, Lance Stroll and me on stage. The young guard. Three midfielders instead of Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen. Exactly what Formula 1 needs. Predictability kills
During the race in Monza Gasly didn’t think about winning at all at first. After the crash of Charles Leclerc the race was stopped. The starting field had already been shaken by the ‘safety car’. Of course: when I caught up with Lance Stroll I knew I was leading a grand prix for the first time in my life. It felt nice, but I thought it would be short. Bottas would come storming in, wouldn’t he?
Things turned out differently. The Finnish racing driver had a malfunctioning car. Valtteri’s advance stopped and that gave me a golden opportunity. Only then did I realise that my childhood dream could come true. I have been dreaming of an F1 victory since I was six years old. I have sacrificed so much for it.
What followed was a blood-curdling fight with contemporary Sainz. It was reminiscent of duels from our youth. I missed that feeling for years. Taking every corner perfectly. Squeezing everything out of the car. One hundred percent focus. As if I drove endless qualifying laps. Gasly drove the final phase into a rush. Actually, I barely paid any attention to Carlos. If he was faster I couldn’t start anything anyway. I got the best out of myself for half an hour. Thank God it was just enough.