So far in the 2021 Formula 1 season, Pierre Gasly has significantly outperformed in his Scuderia Alpha Tauri car. At seven out of nine races, he has qualified in the top six and finished Sunday’s race in Austria in the points. His outstanding performances have led to media speculation about what the future holds for him. Surely a driver of such high standard can’t stay at a midfield team forever?
But what are his alternatives? He has already tried moving up to the Red Bull Racing Honda team in 2019, which didn’t go all too well for him. After a string of unsatisfactory performances, he was dropped midway through the season in favour of Alex Albon, which saw Gasly return to Toro Rosso (the old name for Alpha Tauri). It’s unclear exactly why Gasly didn’t gel with Red Bull, but he was unable to excel as he does at the Toro Rosso/Alpha Tauri team.
Gasly has spoken out about the issues that he experienced during his time at Red Bull in an open letter published on The Players Tribune. “I wish I could tell you it was exactly what I thought it would be — what I wanted it to be. But it wasn’t. I didn’t feel like I was really supported and treated the same way as others there have been… I was not being given all the tools I needed to succeed … my voice wasn’t heard. For whatever reason, I was never going to be a fit in that seat — it was just never going to work.”
Despite this, Gasly has never ruled out returning to Red Bull, stating on F1’s Netflix show Drive To Survive that it’s his goal. He told Planet F1 that he is confident that he would be performing “at least” on the same level as Sergio Perez if he was back in the Red Bull seat, because he is a different driver now following his demotion back to Alpha Tauri. He confirmed that he would like to move back to Red Bull, but he admits that he doesn’t think that Red Bull are considering him.
“Maybe the only logical option for him is to leave the Red Bull Racing family altogether”
If Red Bull are no longer considering promoting Gasly, then staying at Alpha Tauri may be a dead end for his racing career. Maybe the only logical option for him is to leave the Red Bull Racing family altogether. This leaves the question of which rival team he would move to instead. McLaren, Ferrari, Haas, Aston Martin, and Alpine all already have drivers contracted for the 2022 season and beyond.
A move to Alpine for Gasly was speculated in the media, possibly due to his French nationality, but these rumours were falsified when Esteban Ocon’s contract was extended until 2024. Gasly moving to Mercedes seems unlikely. They are in the midst of their own dilemma, as the media speculates whether they will re-sign Valtteri Bottas or promote Williams’ George Russell, whilst Lewis Hamilton has confirmed that he is extending his contract with the championship-winning team.
The only other options for Gasly are Williams and Alfa Romeo. However, these teams are currently at the back of the grid, performing much worse than Alpha Tauri. The 2022 regulation changes are likely to affect the grid dynamic, but a move like that would be a huge gamble for Gasly to take. Sometimes, with high risk comes high reward, and it would ensure that he could continue to drive in F1 whilst also potentially defining his career.
However, Helmut Marko seems eager to keep Gasly at Alpha Tauri for now, telling Planet F1 that “the package fits perfectly.” In 2020, Christian Horner said that “Alpha Tauri is now a sister team [to Red Bull] rather than a junior team”, and if this is the case, then there is no reason why Gasly can’t remain at Alpha Tauri long-term. He is clearly very comfortable and happy at the team, and as they say: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
“It seems unfair for a driver of Gasly’s calibre to be trapped in the midfield forever.”
Even though Gasly is performing well at Alpha Tauri, the car still limits his performance and he could potentially achieve even more at a top team. Alpha Tauri may currently be the best of the midfield, but they are usually unable to challenge the frontrunners such as Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren. It seems unfair for a driver of Gasly’s calibre to be trapped in the midfield forever.
For now, based on his lack of alternatives, staying put at Alpha Tauri is probably Gasly’s best option. However, there are many talented young drivers in the Red Bull Academy, such as F2 race-winners Juri Vips and Liam Lawson. They are likely to be ready to make the step up to F1 over the next couple of years, with an Alpha Tauri seat being the most logical step for them to make in their careers.
It’s difficult to predict what Gasly will do thereon, but with his immense show of talent so far in the 2021 season it seems unlikely that this will be the end of his journey in F1. It is uncertain what the future holds for him, but if he continues to perform well then it can only be up from here.
For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.