To complete Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s 2019 driver line-up, the Team has once again mined the rich seam of exceptional talent unearthed by the Red Bull Junior Programme, and rising French racing star Pierre Gasly will join Max Verstappen at the wheel of the Team’s first Honda-powered machine, the RB15.
Born in 1996, Rouen native Pierre has consistently performed at the highest levels in both his homeland and in international motorsport. The young racer joined the FFSA’s ’10-15’ karting academy programme in 2009 to enable him to combine his education with his passion for racing. He became a star of the karting world, finishing runner-up in the CIK-FIA European Championship in the KF3 class, and being selected for Team France.
With karting success nailed, Pierre made a smooth transition into single seaters, contesting the 2011 French F4 Championship, winning four races and finishing third overall. He then moved up to Formula Renault 2.0, becoming Eurocup Champion in 2013. The following season he stepped up to the hugely competitive Formula Renault 3.5 Series, driving for Arden. Despite being a rookie in a tough school, he finished the season second overall, behind then Red Bull Junior team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Pierre’s impressive pace and growing race craft in the F1 feeder series were rewarded in 2015 with a test and reserve driver role at Red Bull Racing, which he dovetailed with a first season in GP2. He also made his F1 testing debut in May at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, driving the Toro Rosso STR10 on day one before switching to our RB11 on day two.
A solid 2015 GP2 season with DAMS (which included four podium finishes) was followed by a move to Prema Racing for 2016. A thrilling season saw Pierre and team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi go head-to-head for the championship, with the French driver coming out on top in a title showdown at the final round in Abu Dhabi.
A title win in GP2 should have set up a move to the big league in Formula 1 for 2017, but with seats at the top table in short supply Pierre instead opted for a move to Japan’s tough Super Formula Series with Team Mugen.
“That year was really challenging. I was going to Japan at least once a month, always going for a week or 10 days. I was also going to all the Formula 1 races as well, and doing simulator work for Red Bull. I think I did 115 flights that year but I wanted to give everything I had. I took it as another chance to learn and to improve myself as a driver,” he says.
His reward for the hard graft came not in the shape of the Super Formula title – he was eventually denied the crown when bad weather led to the cancellation of what should have been a title-deciding event – but in the form of an F1 drive, secured several weeks earlier at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix.
The French racer arrived in Sepang expecting to fulfil his usual reserve role for Red Bull Racing. Instead he was quickly told to prepare for a race drive, with our sister squad Toro Rosso.
“It was all I had asked for,” he recalls. “You just want a chance in Formula One, one weekend to prove yourself. In Malaysia, I felt less pressure than on any weekend in lower series. I just felt it was my time; that I had got my chance. I felt ready. It was an amazing weekend.”
A solid debut drive at the final Malaysian GP kept Pierre in the STR12 for four of the remaining five races that year and ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix it was confirmed that he would race a full season for the squad in 2018.
“I need to show that I’m fast, competitive, consistent, everything that a top team expects from a driver. It’s about getting experience, showing my potential and showing that I am competitive,” he said of the opportunity.
And over the course of the first half of the season, Pierre didn’t disappoint. An almost flawless weekend in Bahrain saw him qualify fifth and race to a brilliant fourth. In Monaco he took a superb seventh place and in Hungary he recorded a ‘best-of-the-rest’ sixth place behind the top Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing finishers.
It was the perfect note on which to head into the sport’s traditional summer break, a holiday period that would prove pivotal for the Frenchman.
During the shutdown Daniel Ricciardo announced that he would leave Aston Martin Red Bull Racing at the end of the 2018 campaign. In other circumstances the Team might have had difficulty finding a replacement for the Aussie, but with Pierre putting in noteworthy performances at Toro Rosso with increasing regularity, the choice was a simple one. On August 18th, just two weeks after Daniel’s revelation, Pierre was confirmed as a 2019 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing driver.
For Pierre the task is a simple one – to compete for the biggest prizes at a team entering a new phase of competition.
"My goal is very clear in my mind, if I work hard all days it's to become World Champion in F1 one day. I drive every time only to win and to be the best. This is the way to find the motivation and determination."