The emotional reaction from Pierre to winning the race was understandable if you think about everything he’s gone through over the last 12 to 18 months. It really is a remarkable victory. It is one of Formula 1′s true underdog performances. But the personal story attached to it just makes it so much richer.
I’m absolutely delighted for Pierre, because he is a lovely guy, he does work hard, he’s so emotionally invested in all of this, and he’s a very good racing driver. So, with everything he went through, the way he picked himself up after being demoted last year. And don’t forget the weekend, he had to handle his demotion his first race back at Toro Rosso in 2019, he also lost his childhood best friend Anthoine Hubert in a fatal Formula 2 crash at Spa. So that’s a lot to wrestle with but he was excellent at the end of 2019 he’s been mega through 2020 so far.
This drive, once he got into the lead position, was just flawless. The way he handled that pressure and the way he actually executed it showed two things. First of all, it shows just how much comfort and confidence he has at this team. Second, it reinforces the fact that the resilience and composure required to be a successful Formula 1 driver is there, it exists within his character. It’s just it was not something that was tapped into enough by Red Bull. But the environment at AlphaTauri is something that actually brings out the best in Gasly.
He now causes Red Bull a problem because he is performing much better for the junior team and Alex Albon is for the Red Bull team, which means Red Bull must at least be considering whether or not they swap them back. And that is a nightmare scenario to be in because the simplest and preferable scenario for Red Bull this year was going to be that Alex did a great job at the senior team. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case.
Do I think Pierre should go to the senior team? No I don’t. I don’t think it brings out the best in him. I don’t think he thrives in an environment that is weighted towards Max Verstappen – not by deliberately slowing down the second car but just because it’s Max Verstappen and Pierre isn’t the driver Max is. And that’s no shame, because we’re talking tiny, tiny details, but he isn’t.
Red Bull’s never looked that convinced by Pierre, who has been put through a rollercoaster right from 2012 when it first decided not to bring him into the programme. Then he was made a Junior Team member. Then he was unconvincing in GP2 as a rookie, then he was shunted off to Japan after winning the GP2 title instead of promoted to F1, then he was fast-tracked to Red Bull Racing and promised a ‘free’ season – but demoted halfway through.
I think Pierre needs to do what Carlos Sainz Jr has done and find somewhere else to go, and continue his career on his own. It won’t be easy and it won’t be possible for 2021, but he should try. Because he’s an excellent driver, but he needs that team around him and total faith. I’m not entirely sure he gets that at Red Bull.
Speaking of Sainz, this was another excellent weekend from McLaren and Carlos finally has something to show for what has been a really good season. He’s been really unlucky with his race results, lots of little setbacks, pitstop problems, reliability problems. And here we are talking about a man who’s disappointed to get a career best result of second!
He was excellent and he feels he should have won that race. He was running second to Lewis Hamilton on merit in the early stages of the grand prix and moving clear of the cars behind. If that had been a straightforward boring race I think Carlos would have been a distant second behind Lewis, but it would have been a distant second clear of the rest as well.
Sainz really has come of age since forcing his way out of the Red Bull programme in 2017 when he realised there was no immediate future at the senior team for him. He bounced around as Red Bull was clearly not convinced and then Renault decided not to keep him after a full season, but at McLaren Sainz has blossomed into a fantastic driver and at Monza he showed exactly why Ferrari’s picked him for 2021.
Gasly and Sainz now have two podiums each since the door was effectively closed on them by Red Bull. They have done an excellent job to prove their most high-profile doubters wrong.