Pierre Gasly has revealed he was in the AlphaTauri race debrief when he missed a phone call from France’s President after his Italian Grand Prix triumph.
Emmanuel Macron was phoning Gasly to congratulate him after he became the first French driver for 24 years to win a Formula 1 race, since Olivier Panis won the 1996 Monaco Grand Prix in similarly surprising circumstances.
Instead of speaking to Gasly directly, the President left a voicemail message which the 24-year-old picked up after he had broken down the race with his colleagues in the AlphaTauri team.
“It was a bit of a shock to me,” said Gasly in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.
“The President doesn’t call you every week. He had never called me before. I felt bad because I was in the debriefing and missed the call.
“It’s hard to argue if the French President doesn’t reach you. It’s easier to explain this to your family.
“But they were pretty touching words from him. It made me realize I had achieved something great.
“In the two hours after the race, I was dragged from one place to the next. I didn’t even know where I was then. So much hit me all at once, plus all the emotions. When I heard the President, I knew it was a special day.”
Gasly admitted his status in Formula 1 had altered as a result of his Monza victory, in which he benefited from a penalty incurred by Lewis Hamilton, but after finding himself in the lead, drove superbly to hold off a challenge by McLaren’s Carlos Sainz.
“It was my greatest achievement so far in Formula 1 and nobody expected it – it changed my life professionally and personally,” said Gasly.
“All of a sudden, I was in the public spotlight. A lot more people are following me now. It was a big deal for France because we haven’t had a race winner in more than 20 years. But there was also a lot of attention worldwide.
“I now have a different status in the paddock. Not many drivers there have won a race and even fewer in a midfield car.
“I think other teams see me differently now. Otherwise, I’ve stayed the same guy. I have the same ambitions – I want a lot more wins.
“The trophy is in my living room at home and every morning when I have coffee, I can see it. This is a good source of motivation.”