With Sergio Perez now doing exactly what is required at Red Bull, Helmut Marko instead sees Pierre Gasly as “the ideal ambassador” for AlphaTauri.
Gasly remains within the Red Bull ranks two years after his promotion to being Max Verstappen’s team-mate turned out badly, dropped after just half a season.
The 25-year-old appears much happier with, and more suited to, the ‘sister’ AlphaTauri squad, with whom he has now achieved first, second and third placings after his latest podium finish at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Two places in front of Gasly in Baku, recording his first Red Bull win at only the sixth attempt, was Perez, who has a contract just for this year but now looks to be making an increasingly strong case to be kept on in 2022.
Rumours have suggested Gasly could be a target for Alpine, given their respective French connections.
But Marko, head of Red Bull’s driver development programme, is mystified by that speculation and also sees the photogenic Gasly as the perfect team leader for AlphaTauri, who represent a fashion brand, alongside rookie prospect Yuki Tsunoda.
“He’s always on top of his game and in top form,” said Marko of Gasly, even though the duo have been reported to not see eye to eye since the driver’s ill-fated Red Bull spell.
“With AlphaTauri, the package fits perfectly. The combination is a great fit.
“We still have a contract that goes for two more years. I don’t know where the talk about Renault came from again.
“Pierre is the ideal ambassador for AlphaTauri as the slightly fashionable Frenchman. But what is strong is his performance in the car. He lost [engine] power in the race in Baku. The fact he kept [Charles] Leclerc behind him was quite a great performance.”
As for the medium to long term, Marko is looking even beyond Gasly and Tsunoda to the next crop whom his driver programme is trying to cultivate with F1 in mind.
“We have a great pool of drivers,” said the 78-year-old Austrian, also as part of an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.
“It has been written that we don’t have any new blood. [But Juri] Vips wins at will in Formula 2 when the car holds up. [Liam] Lawson is absolutely up there. You can only push him back with 10-second penalties.
“So there’s a lot of talent coming from our own ranks who want to drive the Red Bull.”