Pierre's elevation to an Aston Martin Red Bull Racing race seat for 2019 represents the continuation of Red Bull’s hugely successful tradition of nurturing young drivers from their first steps in racing all the way to the top of the motor sport ladder in F1.
Pierre joined the Red Bull Junior Team in 2014 following impressive performances in karting, F4 and a Formula Renault 2.0 Europcup win in 2013. His stellar progress through Formula Renault 3.5, GP2 (he was champion in 2016) and Japan’s Super Formula earned him a seat at Toro Rosso and the rest is history.
He now joins a host of stars who’ve joined us from the Junior Team, including four-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel, seven-time grand prix winner Daniel Ricciardo and five-time race winner Max Verstappen.
But there is a whole new crop of determined, focused and superbly quick Red Bull Junior Team racers, all of whom are gunning for an eventual berth in the big league.
So let’s take a look at the Junior Team youngsters looking to become the F1 champions of the future.
Name: Dan Ticktum
2019 focus: Super Formula, Japan
Continuing his impressive rise through the junior ranks, Dan Ticktum ended last season with a major statement of intent – winning his second consecutive Macau Grand Prix. The 19-year-old showed his mastery of the notoriously uncompromising Guia street circuit to take pole and then edge an incident-packed race ahead of fellow Motopark driver Joel Eriksson. The win capped a successful season for Dan. He finished second in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, taking four wins, five poles and eight podiums in total. This year, Dan’s continuing his progress in Asia, where he’ll compete in Japan’s highly competitive Super Formula championship, the series that provided Pierre Gasly with his step up to F1. Dan will race for the Team Mugen squad that took Pierre to an eventual runner-up position in the championship in 2017.
Nationality: New Zealand
2019 focus: Formula European Masters
The latest Red Bull Junior Team recruit is Liam Lawson. The Kiwi racer was signed to the programme after his February 2019 Toyota Racing Series title win, in which he beat compatriot and Ferrari junior Marcus Armstrong. Seventeen-year-old Lawson, who hails from the small town of Pukekohe on the North Island of New Zealand, claimed his national Formula 1600 title in 2016/17 and went on to finish runner-up in Australian Formula 4 in 2017 and German Formula 4 last year. Lawson will continue to race in Germany this year as he prepares to take on the Formula European Masters series with Team Motopark.
2019 focus: FIA Formula 3 Championship/Formula European Masters
Also, new to the Junior team is Yuki Tsunoda. The Japanese driver comes to the programme as 2018 Japanese Formula 4 champion. Racing for the Honda Formula Dream Project, Tsunoda took seven wins, eight poles and 11 podiums from the season’s 14 races. This year he’ll contest the new Formula 3 championship that will feature alongside F2 and F1 on grand prix weekend, driving for the Jenzer Motorsport Team. He’ll also contend the Formula European Masters series with Motopark.
2019 focus: FIA Formula 3 Championship
Estonia’s Jüri Vips was drafted into the Junior Team ranks late last year, joining the squad just ahead of the Macau Grand Prix after finishing fourth in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. The previous year Jüri had starred in the German F4 Championship, taking the title with two wins and seven podiums. He made his Junior Team debut in Macau where he crossed the line seventh. This year he makes the step up to the new international F3 series with the Hitech GP team.
Name: Jack Doohan
2019 focus: F3 Asia (TBD)/Euroformula Open Championship (TBD)
The son of five-time 500cc World champion Mick Doohan, 16-year-old Jack spent last year learning the single-seater ropes in British Formula 4 championship. F4 is designed as the category for drivers making the step up from karting, and after an impressive career in karts (Jack was the first Aussie to win a round of the European Karting Championship since 2002), he delivered a similarly eye-catching first season in slicks and wings racing to fifth place overall. His season included three race wins and 12 podiums overall. He also undertook a limited number of races in the German and Italian F4 series with Prema Powerteam. Most recently Jack has been racing in the MRF Challenge in India and took pole in the final round in Chennai. In 2019 he plans to compete in F3 Asia and the Euroformula Open Championship, with those teams still to be announced.
Name: Dennis Hauger
2019 focus: German F4/Italian F4
Like Jack Doohan, former karting star Dennis Hauger (he’s a two-time German kart champ and the youngest ever DKM OK Senior title winner) took to single seaters for the first time last season, also in the British F4 championship. The Norwegian youngster put in an impressive season, taking four wins, four pole positions and 10 podiums overall. He pipped Doohan overall, too, claiming fourth place in the overall standings in his rookie season. In 2019 Dennis will take on a dual F4 programme, racing for the Dutch squad of Frits van Amersfoort in both the 2019 ADAC German Formula 4 and Italian F4 Championship.
Name: Lucas Auer
2019 focus: Super Formula, Japan
New to the Junior Team for 2019, Austria’s Lucas Auer, the nephew of former F1 star Gerhard Berger, comes to Junior Team from the DTM series where last year he raced for the HWA team, which is stepping up from DTM in 2019 to not only compete in Formula E but also to field a team in F2 in partnership with Arden, and in F3, as one of the 10 teams selected for the new international series. Lucas finished last year’s DTM campaign in seventh place overall and is now looking to reignite his single-seater career in Japan’s Super Formula. He’ll race for the B-Max with Motorpark squad alongside one Harrison Newey.
Name: Jonny Edgar
2019 focus: Italian F4 and German F4 (selected races)
Following a final successful season in karting, competing in the OK-Senior karting category for Forza Racing in 2018, Jonny Edgar will this year make the step up to single-seater racing. The British racer will contest a full season in the Italian F4 championship, as well as selected rounds of the German ADAC series, with the Swiss Jenzer Motorsport team.
Name: Harry Thompson
2019 focus: CIK-FIA FIA European Karting Championship/Motorsport UK British Kart Championship Senior X30
Harry Thompson enjoyed spectacular success in karting last year, ending the season as FIA Karting European Vice-champion. He also picked up the Rookie of the Year award for his excellent performances. He finished with 104 points overall, eight ahead of Italy’s Luigi Coluccio. Having only turned 14 last August, Harry will spend another season in the CIK-FIA European Championship with Ricky Flynn Motorsport and will also contest the British Championship with Fusion Motorsport.