Profile: Pierre Gasly's path to Formula 1

Profile: Pierre Gasly's path to Formula 1

26 September 2017 – Pierre Gasly will step up to Formula 1 with Toro Rosso in Malaysia this weekend after a junior career which bubbled and then burst into life. GPUpdate.net takes a look at the Frenchman's path.

Gasly, hailing from the outskirts of Rouen, France, took the typical karting route before graduating to single-seaters in 2011, and progressed into Formula Renault 2.0 despite budgetary constraints. Red Bull harboured an interest in the youngster and picked him up at the end of 2013 after he claimed the 2.0 title, beating the likes of Oliver Rowland and Esteban Ocon.

For 2014, Gasly was placed in Formula Renault 3.5 at Arden, and while he took eight podium finishes, a victory remained elusive, as Red Bull stablemate Carlos Sainz Jr. went on to capture the title.

Gasly also dabbled in GP2 with the Caterham outfit and for 2015 switched to crack squad DAMS, and was immediately on the pace. He claimed four podiums and eighth overall, finishing the year with three poles from four events, but tyre management proved to be a primary weakness as his win drought continued – Gasly dominated at Monza but a mechanical failure robbed him of a near-certain victory. Overall, 2015 was a year in which Gasly was quick, but erratic – a potential talent which still needed refining.

Gasly remained in GP2 for 2016 and joined Prema, as Formula 3's dominant marque added a GP2 team to its roster. Gasly took pole position for the opener in Barcelona but again the win remained elusive, as he took three podiums from the first three events. Gasly led in Baku but was passed on the final lap by team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi, as the Italian rookie grew in stature, with the title fight gradually becoming an in-house affair.

Gasly looked nailed on to triumph in Austria but was caught out on a slippery surface and skated haplessly into the gravel, while matters were accentuated days later when he was involved in a road car accident en route to the British round, an accident which left him with a back complaint and his mother in hospital. Gasly, though, finally ended a thousand-day long win drought with a dominant display at Silverstone, backed it up two weeks later at the Hungaroring and registered another win at Spa-Francorchamps, the latter round playing host to a thrilling pass on Rowland through Eau Rouge, completed despite front wing damage on his car. Gasly was on form at Monza but Safety Car timing skewered his strategy – and agonisingly aided Giovinazzi's alternate strategy – while at the Malaysian round he took pole, only to slide down the order in race trim. Red Bull, still with doubts over Gasly, opted to retain Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso for 2017, but Gasly still had a title to win, and emphatically dominated at the final round in Abu Dhabi to collect the championship, becoming the category's youngest champion since 2005.

Gasly remained embedded within Red Bull's set up and for 2017 was placed in the Japanese Super Formula championship at the Honda-powered Mugen squad. Despite having to learn a new car, new circuits, and being able to communicate with only one engineer, Gasly has emerged as a title contender, taking two wins and a runner-up spot from the last three rounds. He is the only Honda driver to win a race so far this season, and is also the only Honda driver in the top eight of the standings.

Now Gasly, who is still set to contest the Suzuka finale next month, has his long-awaited chance in Formula 1, having completed several test days for Red Bull across the last three years. While he has no experience of Toro Rosso's STR12, this is undoubtedly a chance Gasly is ready to grasp with both hands.

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