Pierre Gasly thinks he is “a better driver” now than when he was at Red Bull – and that it would give him a “chance” in the same car again as Max Verstappen.
The Frenchman was promoted to the Red Bull senior team for 2019 but failed to take his opportunity, being off Verstappen’s pace and dropped back to Toro Rosso during the mid-season break in favour of Alex Albon.
Ironically, Albon also struggled in Gasly’s former role throughout 2020 and has been replaced by Sergio Perez for 2021, highlighting the difficulty for young drivers when pitched in against the flying Dutchman.
However, Gasly has revitalised his career with AlphaTauri, as Toro Rosso are now known, enjoying his first F1 victory in the 2020 Italian Grand Prix and recording a string of other points finishes.
The 24-year-old believes the progress he has made in the 16 months since his demotion means he would give Verstappen a run for his money if they ever ended up as team-mates again – even though, in the short-to-medium term, that is not looking likely.
Asked during an interview with Auto Motor und Sport if he would now do better against Verstappen if they were in the same car, Gasly said: “I think I would have my chance in the same car. But it’s a lot more complicated than that. I know my skills.
“If I have the right car, like this year, I can do really well. I showed that. I’ll keep going full throttle so that I get my chance.
“I’m doing much better. Objectively speaking, I’m a better driver. More consistent, with more experience. I expect to be even better in 2021 and again the following year.”
Gasly explained the areas in which he thinks he has improved, as he prepares to start 2021 as the undoubted lead driver at AlphaTauri after rookie Yuki Tsunoda was brought in to replace Daniil Kvyat.
“In Formula 1, experience makes quite a difference,” said Gasly. “I’ve learned how to work better with the team. How I get more out of the people around me. How I better prepare for the race weekend. How to deal with the little problems that can happen to you over the weekend.
“To be honest, there are still so many areas I can improve. But that’s also the case with a seven-time World Champion. Speaking to Lewis [Hamilton] I’m sure he feels there are areas where he could do better.
“This is our life – we work on every detail that makes us better, doing something better than the others.
“My goal in Formula 1 is to become world champion – that’s what I work for.”