Pierre Gasly biography
Pierre Gasly was handed his F1 debut with Toro Rosso at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix, though at one stage he had been hopeful of beginning the season with Red Bull’s junior team.
Birthplace: Rouen, France
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Gasly was in his fourth year on Red Bull’s junior driver team. He began racing in the French Formula Four championship at the age of 15, finishing runner-up to Matthieu Vaxiviere and Andrea Pizzitola, then moved into Formula Renault 2.0.
His breakthrough came in his second year of racing in the Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup. Gasly prevailed in a close and sometimes acrimonious season-long battle with Oliver Rowland. The pair collided in Russia and at the season finale at the Circuit de Catalunya. Rowland’s penalty for the latter collision sealed the title for Gasly.
As well as gaining half a million Euros towards a Formula Renault 3.5 drive Gasly also attracted the attention of Red Bull. They placed him on their young driver programme alongside Carlos Sainz Jnr and Alex Lynn.
For 2014 Gasly was placed at Arden in Formula Renault 3.5. He finished runner-up to Sainz in the title battle thanks to a series of consistently strong finishes, though he ended the year without a win.
Gasly also dipped a toe in GP2 waters and the following year switched to the series full-time with DAMS. For the second year in a row he endured a win-less campaign, and was eighth in the standings. However Red Bull kept their faith, and Gasly had his first F1 tests with their junior team Toro Rosso.
Prema arrived in the championship for 2016 and Gasly joined the team which quickly proved to be the new power in the championship. Despite this, victory continued to elude Gasly as the season began. Team mate Antonio Giovinazzi did the double in Baku, and firmly put Gasly in the shade by overtaking him despite having a broken Drag Reduction System.
Another victory shot passed Gasly by when he spun off in wet conditions at the Red Bull Ring. His breakthrough finally came at Silverstone, though the weekend started badly when he was involved in a road car crash on the way to the circuit in which his mother was injured. An untimely red flag arguably cost him pole position, but in the race he outmanoeuvred Norman Nato and won.
Further victories in two of the next three feature races strengthened Gasly’s cause. Giovinazzi was still in touch, however, and at Monza the Safety Car cost Gasly a likely win which went to his team mate instead.
They arrived at the season finale with Giovinazzi seven points ahead. But Gasly shrugged off the championship pressure to win the opening race from pole position, and with Giovinazzi unable to rise higher the sixth in the final race the title was Gasly’s.
The possibility of an early promotion to Formula One had been a distration for Gasly in the latter stages of 2016. At one point he even suggested to a French journalist he was on theverge of being promoted to Toro Rosso in place of the struggling Daniil Kvyat. However the team put Gasly’s ambitions on hold, re-signed Kvyat for another year, and sent the new GP2 champion to Japan’s Super Formula championship.
Gasly got to grips with the unfamiliar tracks and high-performance cars quickly. He took just five races to claim his first win, at Motegi, and added another at Autopolis thanks in part to a well-judged tyre strategy. Second place at Sugo left him half a point off the championship lead with just the double-header season finale remaining.
During 2017 Gasly also made an appearance as a substitute driver in Formula E, taking the place of championship leader Sebastien Buemi at Renault. He finished both races in New York ahead of the team’s regular driver Nicolas Prost and scored a best result of fourth place.
Meanwhile Kvyat was continuing to struggle at Toro Rosso. In Singapore the team confirmed Sainz would join Renault the following year, and in the race Kvyat hit the wall. With an eye on their driver plans for 2018, Toro Rosso announced Gasly would make his F1 debut for them alongside Sainz in Malaysia.
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