Pierre Gasly says he does not know why he has been overlooked for a Red Bull Racing Formula 1 drive in 2021 and is “surprised” to have not been considered.
Gasly has been confirmed at AlphaTauri for next season after starring for Red Bull’s second team since being demoted from Red Bull Racing in the middle of 2019.
He took a shock win in the Italian Grand Prix, the team’s first since Sebastian Vettel’s victory in its Toro Rosso days in 2008, and is ninth in the championship after other strong results as well including fifth place in last weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix.
However, Red Bull has ruled out placing Gasly back at its leading team if it opts to drop the struggling Alex Albon, Gasly’s successor.
Gasly said on Friday ahead of F1’s return to Imola at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that he has “not really” had an explanation for not being picked by Red Bull in 2021, though admitted “it was clear that I will continue with AlphaTauri”.
But when asked by The Race about Gasly’s comments, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Gasly was “made very aware throughout the discussions that his future has always laid with AlphaTauri”.
Horner said last week that Red Bull’s fear is Gasly would return to the struggles he endured in his half-season alongside Max Verstappen in 2019 that triggered the swap with Albon in the first place.
“I’m the only other driver who won a race, Seb got promoted to Red Bull and won four titles with the team. I’m just surprised I wasn’t really considered” :: Pierre Gasly
It has previously been stated that AlphaTauri’s revised status as the “sister team” rather than the junior squad meant it needed a more experienced leading driver like Gasly.
When asked if Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr Helmut Marko had explained the decision-making process for 2021, Gasly paused before responding: “They have their strategy. It’s up to them. If you want a better answer, it’s better to ask them straight away.
“But on my side I think it’s been made clear to me I will continue for quite a while with this team.
“I’m not disappointed, I think we’re performing on a great level, I’m able to show my potential. I’m able to show my speed, my skills.
“And I’m 24 years old. Obviously my goal in F1 is to fight at the top and one day to fight for a championship.
“But at the moment I just need to perform and do the best job I can in the team I’m in.”
“He’s happy in that environment. The team are very happy with him. So, why break that up?” :: Christian Horner
Gasly’s reference to it being “made clear to me” he would be staying at AlphaTauri was supported by another comment he made, stating he had known “for a couple of weeks”.
That acceptance and Horner’s rejection of the idea Gasly was in the dark suggests that while an explicit conversation may not have taken place, Red Bull’s intentions were known.
Horner said: “I think it’s been made very clear to him, he’s a key part of the AlphaTauri team, AlphaTauri has got different aspirations than that of Toro Rosso so it’s not just purely a junior team it’s a sister team as I’ve previously stated.
“We’re very pleased that he’s done a great job in that environment, he’s happy in that environment. The team are very happy with him. So, why break that up?
“That’s been made clear to him. He’s on a long-term contract with Red Bull for the next several years, we have all the information that we need on Pierre and I think he’s been made very aware throughout the discussions that his future has always laid with AlphaTauri simply because of the evolving nature of that team and the aspirations of that team.”
Though he has been a Red Bull protege for eight years now, Gasly’s relationship with the company has appeared rocky at times.
He was overlooked for an F1 seat after winning the GP2 title in 2016, and was dropped from the top team in August last year despite being promised the full season to get up to speed alongside Verstappen.
When asked if he thought something from the past might be swaying Red Bull’s decision rather than just on-track performances, Gasly replied: “I don’t know.”
He also said that while he is “not disappointed” to miss out on a Red Bull return, “I will say I’m just surprised”.
“In 14 years, only Seb won a race with Toro Rosso,” said Gasly.
“I’m the only other driver who won a race, Seb got promoted to Red Bull and won four titles with the team.
“So, I must say I’m just surprised I wasn’t really considered.
“I had two podiums with Toro Rosso, I think this season is going alright and on my side the only thing I can do is try to put some strong performances to give me opportunities in the future.
“That’s the only thing I can do. After everything is sorted I don’t want to think about this anymore.
“I need to perform as much as I can for AlphaTauri, I’m happy to be here and I’m just focused on this weekend and trying to get the best result I can for the team.”
Despite being overlooked for 2021, Gasly believes a long-term future with Red Bull is possible.
“I’ve said it many times, my future is with Red Bull, I’m committed to Red Bull,” said Gasly.
“I want to be successful in Formula 1, I want to fight for wins, the championship, and that’s the target.
“Hopefully we can make this happen with Red Bull. We’ll see in the future what happens, but at the moment that’s the plan.”