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Pierre Gasly (FRA), AlphaTauri F1 06.09.2020. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 8, Italian Grand Prix, Monza, Italy, Race Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com - copy of publication required for printed pictures. Every used picture is fee-liable. © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

Pierre Gasly: From zero to hero

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“PIERRE GASLY WINS THE ITALIAN GRAND PRIX, MY OH MY, IS THAT JUST WONDERFUL”. Those were the words said by David Croft as Pierre Gasly crossed the line in Monza, getting the first win of his career, and possibly the most feel good result ever in F1, if anyone deserved it, Gasly did. To celebrate the Frenchman’s 25th birthday we take a look back at the highs and lows of his career, and that victory in Monza.  

Pierre Gasly was born in Rouen, France on 7th February 1996, and started competitive karting at the age of 10, he quickly moved up the ranks and won the GP2 (now F2) series in 2016. 2017 saw him make his F1 debut at the Malaysian Grand Prix, replacing Daniil Kvyat for a number of races, before getting a full time race seat at the team in 2018, partnering Brendon Hartley. Things went well for Gasly as he finished well above Hartley in the standings, earning a promotion to Red Bull for the 2019 season.

Partnering Max Verstappen, Gasly struggled to get to grips with the RB15, frequently being lapped by Verstappen, and only managing to out-qualify the dutchman once during his time at the team. Gasly suffered a few on track accidents and a combination of these and his poor performance resulted in him being demoted back to Toro Rosso before the Belgium Grand Prix. However, the demotion would be far from the worst event of that weekend.

When Gasly was demoted from Red Bull he got many messages of support from people up and down the paddock, but Pierre says the first message came from his lifelong best friend, who he always turned to in a difficult situation. Anthoine Hubert. The two had known each other since they were toddlers, and raced in many of the same series, Pierre, Anthoine and Charles (Leclerc) were often inseparable both on and off track.

The weekend of the Belgium Grand Prix will always be one of the saddest weeks in history for the motorsport community. In the F2 sprint race, Gasly’s best friend, Hubert, was tragically killed in an accident at Raidillon, which also gave Juan Manuel Correa life changing injuries. All of a sudden Pierre’s best friend was gone, on a weekend that Pierre needed the support of those around him the most. F1 raced on and fittingly, Charles Leclerc took his first F1 win on Sunday, immediately dedicating the win to Anthoine, and since that weekend the motorsport community has never forgotten the young frenchman, with AH19 logos on all the cars, and F1 paying their respects one year on at the 2020 Belgium Grand Prix, with Pierre dedicating a helmet to his friend.

This was surely the lowest point of Gasly’s career, but he’s a racing driver, and racing drivers don’t give up.

Gasly remained at Toro Rosso (now Alpha Tauri) for the 2020 season, and within the first few races was labelled as one of the best performing drivers in the field, the season continued normally and on 6th September the teams raced at the temple of speed. This race, would be magical. Gasly qualified well, getting into Q3 and started the race 10th. On lap 18 Kevin Magnussen’s Haas suffered a PU failure, forcing him to pull over at the entrance of the pit-lane. Due to the yellow flags being brought out Gasly pitted for fresh tires just before race control decided to close the pit-lane for safety reasons. Hamilton failed to notice this closure and pitted anyway, earning a 10 second stop go penalty in the process. When the Safety car period ended Charles Leclerc lost control of his Ferrari, crashing heavily at Parabolica, bringing out a red flag.

When the race restarted Hamilton was forced to serve his penalty, putting Pierre Gasly into the lead of the race, after benefiting from an amazing strategy call to pit him early. The closing stages of the race were edge of the seat stuff, as McLaren’s Carlos Sainz was fighting Gasly for the win all the way until the line. Pierre held him off. Wining the race.

Pierre and the team celebrated in Parc Ferme, with drivers such as Grosjean, Bottas and Leclerc all making a point of congratulating the Frenchman. On the podium Pierre took a moment to remember his friend Anthoine, giving us one of, if not the image of the season with Pierre sitting alone with his thoughts on the podium.

Gasly raced well for the rest of the year, and remains at Alpha Tauri for the 2021 season, if he continues his 2020 form in 2021 it’s surely only a matter of time before a top team comes knocking on the door for Pierre. He has a great future ahead, and he deserves every bit of success he has. Anthoine Hubert’s message to Pierre after his Red Bull demotion simply read ‘prove them wrong’, and he’s certainly done that.

 

Image: f1.com 

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