Pierre Gasly will be an AlphaTauri driver until he is free to go from 2024 says Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko, until then there is no exit clause for the Frenchman.
The 26-year-old Frenchman is a product of the Red Bull young driver pipeline that nurtured the likes of Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo, Max Verstappen and several others; which started with a rookie season with Toro Rosso (now AlphaTauri) before a select few got the nod to drive for the Big Team, aka Red Bull.
Gasly followed the set path, getting his break with five races for Toro Rosso in 2017, before his first full season with the Red Bull Junior team in 2018.
The rot began when Max Verstappen soon let Daniel Ricciardo know who is boss in the bullpen which sent the Australian packing on a big-bucks deal to Renault. Bad call it turns out.
This left Verstappen without a teammate, so Gasly was fast-tracked to fill the big shoes left behind by Dan, and was soon in hot water as he trashed the Red Bull RB15 during 2019 testing, by Round 12 he was demoted as the Alex Albon experiment alongside Verstappen. We all know how that ended.
Truth is Gasly was not given as much time as Albon to shape up but it was clear his shares needed rebuilding after the six months as a Red Bull driver.
Since then he has rebuilt his reputation with solid showings just about every weekend, even winning famously at Monza in 2020.
Gasly to replace Alonso at Alpine? Not likely!
Now, in the wake of Fernando Alonso’s defection, the Oscar Piastri snub, no surprise Frenchman Gasly was being considered by the French team, to make up an all-French driver line-up with Gasly and former mate Esteban Ocon.
“Former mate” being the key words, according to several French sources there is bad blood between the two and would result in a toxic partnership; good enough reason to drop the concept like a hot potato.
Furthermore, anyone can have Pierre but only until Red Bull needs him no longer, which is the end of next year which put another nail in that speculative summer piece.
Of Gasly’s contract, Marko told Sport1: “There is no exit clause. There was none before the summer break and there will be none after the summer break.”
Adding insult to injury, it could be said, Marko added: “[Sergio] Perez’s contract prevents a transfer from Gasly to Red Bull Racing in 2023. From 2024 Gasly is free.”
Pierre has an important role for Red Bull: to be super-sub should Checo or Max be indisposed
When he lines up on the grid at Spa-Francorchamps on 28 August, it will be for his 100th Formula 1 start pretty much where he started five years ago: at the Red Bull junior team with no way out until he becomes surplus to requirements or force majeure.
Thinking worst-case scenario for Red Bull, Perez or Verstappen, for that matter, are unable to race (for whatever reason) Gasly will be the go-to guy to fill for either; had Checo not been as good as it has been so far, had he flopped badly one would expect Pierre to get the nod. Ditto should the Mexican veteran flop in the future.
While acknowledging Gasly’s progress since the Red Bull experiment backfired, Marko first recalled in a recent interview with Motorsport-Total: “Gasly was lapped by Max in Hungary 2019.
“He’s certainly more solid now, has a lot more self-confidence, but it’s difficult to say to what extent he could hold his own against a Verstappen.”
While tipping a hat to the leadership qualities Gasly has shown at AlphaTauri, Marko threw in a Yuki Tsunoda twist: “Yuki is doing lap times which is already at his level but not quite like that in the race…”
“We improved Gasly’s contract financially, although we didn’t have to do it,” Marko added and said his Red Bull team had “a good relationship” with Alpine – their former F1 world title winning partners – should they want to do a deal.
Anything less for Gasly, only from 2024.