The latest piece of the 2019 jigsaw puzzle has fallen into place with the news that Pierre Gasly will switch from Toro Rosso to Red Bull next season to partner Max Verstappen.
The 22-year-old Frenchman, who made his F1 debut with Toro Rosso at last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix, will take Daniel Ricciardo’s place in the team as the Australian departs for Renault.
The announcement of Gasly’s promotion to Red Bull’s senior squad comes midway through his first full season in the top flight, during which he has scored three top-ten finishes, including a superb fourth place in Bahrain.
“Since Pierre first stepped into a Formula 1 seat with Scuderia Toro Rosso less than a year ago he has proved the undoubted talent that Red Bull has nurtured since his early career,” commented Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner.
“His stellar performances this year at the Honda-powered team, in only his first full season in Formula 1, have only enhanced his reputation as one of the most exciting young drivers in motorsport and we look forward to Pierre bringing his speed, skill and attitude to the team in 2019.
“While our immediate focus remains fully on achieving our best result in the 2018 World Championship, we look forward to competing in 2019 with Max and Pierre at the wheel of Aston Martin Red Bull Racing.”
Gasly described the move as “a dream come true.”
“I’m so excited to be joining this top team," he added. "It has been my goal to race for this team since I joined the Red Bull Junior Driver Programme in 2013, and this incredible opportunity is another step forward in my ambition to win Grands Prix and compete for World Championships. Red Bull has always looked to fight for championships or victories and that’s what I want. I’m a really competitive guy and when I do something it’s always to fight for the best and top positions.
“As hugely exciting a moment as this is, I am fully aware of the challenge this special opportunity offers me and the expectations that faces any driver at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. I’m looking forward to rewarding the faith that Dietrich Mateschitz, Christian Horner and Dr Helmut Marko have placed in me.
“The first phase of that is to keep pushing for ultimate performance and the best results in 2018 that I can achieve for my team, Scuderia Toro Rosso. I wish to thank Franz Tost and everyone at Toro Rosso and the factory in Faenza for giving me the golden opportunity of a drive in Formula One and their amazing commitment and support, which I know will continue for the rest of this season. My focus now is to do everything I can to give them a season to celebrate.”
Gasly’s appointment at Red Bull means three of the 10 teams have now confirmed their driver line-ups for 2019 – the others being Mercedes and Renault.
Who will fill the remaining seats on the grid? You can read our latest gossip column by clicking here.