Red Bull promotes Gasly as Ricciardo replacement for 2019 F1 season
August 24 2018 , 2:10 am
Red Bull has confirmed it will promote Pierre Gasly to its senior Formula 1 team next season in place of Daniel Ricciardo.
Gasly currently drives for Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso, where he made his F1 debut at the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix before being promoted to a full-time drive for this season.
He finished fourth in Bahrain, earning Honda’s best result since returning to F1 in 2015, and has since banked seventh in Monaco and sixth in Hungary to comfortably outperform team-mate Brendon Hartley.
When Ricciardo announced his shock move to Renault for 2019, Gasly quickly emerged as the favourite to replace him.
McLaren’s news that it had signed Carlos Sainz Jr – Gasly’s only apparent rival for Ricciardo’s seat – effectively confirmed Gasly’s promotion because McLaren needed Red Bull’s permission to hire and announce Sainz.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Gasly’s “stellar performances” this season had “enhanced his reputation as one of the most exciting young drivers in motorsport”.
Gasly will also bring a season of experience using the Honda engine, which Red Bull will adopt for 2019.
“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,” said Horner.
“We look forward to Pierre bringing his speed, skill and attitude to the team in 2019.”
Gasly is the only Red Bull driver to win F1’s immediate feeder series’ championship, as he clinched the 2016 GP2 Series title.
He was then placed in Super Formula as Red Bull made him wait for his F1 chance, but described his swift acceleration to a senior team drive as “a dream come true”.
“It has been my goal to race for this team since I joined the Red Bull junior driver programme in 2013,” said Gasly.
“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.”
Gasly said he was grateful to Toro Rosso and his current team boss Franz Tost, and said he wants to “do everything I can to give them a season to celebrate” over the rest of 2018.
Red Bull’s confirmation of Gasly means it will need to find at least one new driver to place at Toro Rosso next season, though Hartley may yet earn a stay of execution because of the lack of options.
There is no obvious option within Red Bull’s pool of junior drivers, with European Formula 3 championship leader Dan Ticktum favoured but at risk of not earning a superlicence.
One solution would be to adopt a driver currently outside that pool, like Stoffel Vandoorne if the Belgian is dropped from McLaren.
Another would be for Red Bull to repeat what it did Hartley and bring an older driver back into the fold, such as ex-Toro Rosso men-turned-Formula E champions Sebastian Buemi and Jean-Eric Vergne.