Daniel Ricciardo’s shock decision to quit Red Bull for Renault in 2019 sent shockwaves through the F1 world – but for Pierre Gasly, it handed him the biggest opportunity of his career so far. The young Frenchman beat off the competition to take the coveted empty seat alongside Max Verstappen, and on this week’s episode of Beyond The Grid, presented by Bose, he gives the inside line on the move – including the moment he found out there might be an opening.
“Helmut was straight on the phone when he got the news from Daniel. He rang me, just before the news was out,” Gasly tells host Tom Clarkson.
“He said ‘Just to let you know, Daniel is out.’ At that time honestly I was shocked. I didn’t expect it, didn’t believe it in a way. At the beginning I thought he was taking the p*** out of me! Really quickly I understood he was serious, so of course my first thought was ‘ok, there might be an opportunity’…”
Weeks after finding out he was going to be the man filling Ricciardo’s shoes, the Frenchman reveals he still can’t quite believe it.
“It’s something amazing," he says. "I know next year is going to be a fantastic season, a fantastic opportunity for myself. Of course it’s massive for me. When I joined Red Bull in 2013 it was my long-term target to join Red Bull Racing.
“But when I came into F1 12 months ago I didn’t think I’d be in that position today, even if it’s what I dream about and what I targeted. I didn’t expect it to come so quickly. I’m just super excited about the challenge.”
In a wide-ranging interview, Gasly charts his career to date, including giving a fascinating insight into his time racing in Japan, and how it could give him a potential advantage over Verstappen next season. He also gives an intriguing run down over his racing rivals, revealing a unique relationship with Sebastian Vettel.
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