Motorsport advisor to Formula 1’s Red Bull Dr Helmut Marko has offered a withering assessment of the recently demoted Pierre Gasly, and in doing so, explained why his performances this season have necessitated a return to sister team Toro Rosso.
Gasly only made his debut with the four-time construction champions in the opening race of the 2019 season back in March, but a paltry return of only 63 points in that time, equating to a massive 118-point deficit over Red Bull’s senior driver Max Verstappen has led to Red Bull’s decisive mid-season reshuffle.
Gasly has been replaced by the man who originally took his place at Toro Rosso, Thai-British Alexander Albon, who this season has himself earned 16 points in a vastly inferior car that of the man he has replaced at Red Bull.
Marko, himself a former F1 driver and head of Red Bull’s driver development program since 1999, said of Gasly’s removal from the team, as per GPFans: “Gasly has problems in traffic, he loses places and he can’t overtake.
“So we had to react and give Albon a chance until the end of the season. Gasly takes his place at Toro Rosso and then we see who will be driving next year next to Max.”
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Hardly a glowing report card.
Such a robust description of the deficiencies in Gasly’s driving ability may signal an end to his chances of returning to the Red Bull hot seat, with Albon keen to impress and Toro Rosso’s other driver, Russian Daniil Kvyat, in the running to partner Verstappen when the 2020 season begins in March of next year.
Kvyat has previously driven for Red Bull in the 2015 season, racking up 95 points, but was demoted back to the junior Toro Rosso team early in the 2016 season following an incident with teammate Sebastian Vettel at the Sochi Grand Prix in Russia.
However, Kvyat impressively secured Toro Roso’s second ever top-three finish at this year’s German Grand Prix, his third career podium, an achievement that is sure to have caught the eye of Red Bull team principle Christian Horner.
That said, Albon clearly has the backing of his team, having been dropped from their junior programme in 2012 only to be reinstated and then promoted in a matter of months.
Although it is unlikely that Red Bull expected Gasly to compete blow for blow with the highly vaunted Verstappen, it would be remiss to accuse Red Bull of a knee-jerk reaction in demoting the underperforming Frenchman, and with both Kvyat and Albon clearly catching the eye, they expect their senior driver to be given stiff competition by his teammate; a change in personnel might just be the catalyst that pushes Red Bull into Mercedes’ considerable slipstream and has runaway championship leader Lewis Hamilton looking over his shoulder.