‘No big drama’ over Gasly’s Red Bull demotion

Henry Valantine
Pierre Gasly in a press conference. Italy September 2019.

Pierre Gasly speaks to the media after being demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso. Italy September 2019.

AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton praised Pierre Gasly for how his mindset was after being demoted from Red Bull in 2019, saying he was ‘”straight back on it” upon his return to the team.

Gasly had been promoted from the Red Bull junior squad, which raced under Toro Rosso at that point, to replace Daniel Ricciardo after his move to Renault, but the Frenchman struggled to match Max Verstappen and was abruptly sent back to the Faenza team after only 12 races.

But rather than shrink into relative obscurity, Gasly’s performances improved significantly – and managed to gain his first Formula 1 podium in Brazil that season, beating his best Red Bull result in the process.

He has made no secret of his desire to return to Red Bull in the future, but such a move is now highly unlikely given Sergio Perez was awarded a contract extension until the end of 2024, which Gasly admitted was a “logical” decision for the team to have taken.

Gasly himself, meanwhile, is set to assess his options when his Red Bull/AlphaTauri deal finishes at the end of 2023.

Egginton admitted the team had been wondering what he would be like to work with again after he swapped seats with Alex Albon, but he made it clear that it ended up not being a significant issue.

“I think Pierre himself has been clear in explaining his feelings and emotions over that,” Egginton told the Beyond the Grid podcast when asked about Gasly’s return to the team.

AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly puts his hand to his head. Saudi Arabia, March 2022.
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, puts his hand to his head in the paddock. Saudi Arabia, March 2022.

“But in all honesty, you know, he left our team, he came back, he hopped in the car, and we got on with it without any consideration of what it come from.

“He was straight back on it, it was like he’d never been away. And I have to say it’s a credit to him that he just got on with it.

“You know, there was no sad face or anything, and straight away we were really happy to be working with him again.

“It’s not something we talked about a lot, really. Before he came back, we suddenly thought, ‘I wonder what he’s going to be like’, but in all credit to him, he got straight back on with it and the engineers got on with it. And we’ve just worked with him and we’re happy working with him.

“And believe it or not, it was not such a big thing. It was like ‘okay, we know him, he’s coming back. Let’s crack on.’”

Gasly at Red Bull could never quite get close enough to Verstappen in terms of pure pace, both in qualifying and race trim, with the Dutchman having taken 181 points to Gasly’s 63 by the time he was demoted.

But having since taken multiple podiums and become a race winner, the AlphaTauri technical director felt he showed his talent and was able to pick up where he left off when he returned.

“Yeah, definitely. I think so,” Egginton responded when asked if he came back to Toro Rosso as a stronger driver.

“It’s often said, you know, you learn from good and bad experiences, but he came back a better driver and he came back mentally strong – which is why I say there was no big drama really.

“He knew what he wanted to do, he knew where he wanted to go. We were at a point where we had a bit of an upturn in form, the car was looking good, [and] he contributed to the development of that car.

“So we never really had any point where we were saying, ‘I don’t know really what’s going on here’. He was straight on it. So it was that straightforward for us, which was fantastic.”

 

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