Pierre Gasly biography
Pierre Gasly was handed his Formula 1 debut with Toro Rosso at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix, the 15th race of the year, 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 his car racing career in French Formula 4 at the age of 15, finishing third in the championship, then moved into Formula Renault 2.0.
His breakthrough came in his second FR2.0 Eurocup campaign. Gasly prevailed in a close and sometimes acrimonious season-long battle with Oliver Rowland. The pair collided at Moscow Raceway and at the Barcelona season finale, and Rowland’s penalty for the latter collision sealed the title for Gasly.
As well as gaining €500,000 towards a Formula Renault 3.5 drive, Gasly also attracted the attention of Red Bull. They placed him in their young driver programme alongside Carlos Sainz Jnr and Alex Lynn.
For 2014 Gasly was placed at Arden in FR3.5. 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 winless campaign, and was eighth in the standings. However Red Bull kept their faith, and Gasly had his first F1 tests with their secondary team Toro Rosso.Antonio Giovinazzi did the double in Baku, firmly putting 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.
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 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 F1 had been a distraction for Gasly in the latter stages of 2016. At one point he even suggested to a French journalist he was on the verge 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 final two races at Suzuka remaining. But they were cancelled due to Typhoon Lan, confining Gasly to the runner-up spot.
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. At the Singapore Grand Prix the team confirmed Sainz would join Renault the following year, and in Sunday’s race Kvyat crashed out. With an eye on their driver plans for 2018, Toro Rosso announced Gasly would make his F1 debut for them alongside Sainz at the next race in Malaysia.
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