Out of favour Red Bull F1 driver Pierre Gasly is vowing to push on after being dumped by the senior team to make way for Toro Rosso rookie Alex Albon.
Despite repeatedly insisting that the struggling Frenchman would stay with Toro Rosso at least for the rest of 2019, Red Bull announced on Monday that he will in fact be replaced immediately after the summer break by Alex Albon.
“The team will use the next nine races to evaluate Alex’s performance in order to make an informed decision as to who will drive alongside Max (Verstappen) in 2020,” read a statement.
It is bitter news for 23-year-old Gasly, even though his F1 career is not over completely as he returns to Toro Rosso.
RMC Sport quoted Gasly’s manager as saying he will now “show his true value in a team he loves and with whom he has already proven himself”.
The brutality of Red Bull’s driver programme is well known, and the pressure will now be on British-born Thai rookie Albon to survive and thrive alongside the on-form Verstappen.
“It’s a big jump into the deep end, but I’ve got my swimming shorts on,” the quietly spoken 23-year-old said.
Former F1 driver and Dutch GP boss Jan Lammers told De Telegraaf newspaper that Red Bull’s decision is not surprising, “On the one hand it’s tough for Gasly, but on the other Red Bull has repeatedly and loudly stated that he should perform better.”
“All in all it’s understandable. If Red Bull wants to be world champion with Max next year, they need a driver comparable to Daniel Ricciardo,” Lammers added.
But another Dutch driver and pundit, Tom Coronel, thinks Red Bull is now risking the early career of the promising rookie Albon, “I would have taken Kvyat.”
“He’s like Nico Hulkenberg or Kevin Magnussen: good, fast, experienced. And with nothing to lose. But this puts so much pressure on Albon. Perhaps they have seen something in him that I haven’t.”
As for Gasly, he must now cling to his 38-grand prix old Formula 1 career back at Toro Rosso.
“I feel for Pierre,” said former F1 driver Giedo van der Garde. “But never give up mate, get your confidence back and the flow you were in last year and I’m sure you can prove everyone wrong.”
Adding to the challenges the rookie will face is the man in the #33 car who he will share a garage with. Verstappen is already well established among the top two or three drivers on the grid and his destruction of Gasly was clinical and relentless as if the Frenchman was not even in the team.
Albon will be aware of this and knows he will have to continue to raise his game as in the Red Bull there is simply nowhere to hide, he has to deliver during the next nine races or inevitably suffer a similar plight to Gasly.
Big Question: Is Alex ready to be Max’s teammate at Red Bull?