Scuderia Toro Rosso have made no secret of their admiration for the up-and-coming talent behind the wheel. But just who is 21-year-old Frenchman Pierre Gasly?
Team principal Franz Tost explained: “He is the next in line at Red Bull for this opportunity. And he has shown that he deserves it, having taken the 2016 GP2 title and this year is very competitive in the Super Formula series.
“The driver switch gives us an opportunity to make a more informed decision regarding our 2018 drive choices.”
Gasly grew up on the outskirts of Rouen and enjoyed numerous sports including tennis, badminton, squash, football and skiing. His motorsport career began in karting in 2006 and he quickly climbed up the junior ranks before his first chance in single-seaters, the French F4 Championship in which he finished third.
A first title followed in Eurocup Formula Renault in 2013, the same year in which he was snapped up for the Red Bull driver training programme.
In 2014 he enjoyed a tussle with his now Scuderia Toro Rosso teammate Carlos Sainz. Jr in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with eight podium finishes ending with him runner-up to the Spaniard.
The following year Pierre Gasly drove for French team DAMS in GP2 during an up and down season
But in 2016, now with Prema Racing, a maiden victory came at Silverstone with two more following.
He went into the season finale seven points behind Antonio Giovinazzi but, at Yas Marina, his race win and ninth place in two thrilling races were enough to sneak the title with an eight-point advantage.
The result was all the more impressive as he suffered a broken vertebra during the course of the season. Pierre drove with the injury for two-and-a-half months, while his mother was also hospitalised for three months of the season.
“The season was really tough mentally and physically,” he said. “I could write a book about my season! So many things happened, we never stopped fighting, and that’s a great achievement to see all the hard work paid off in the end.”
The GP2 title was not quite enough to get a drive on the F1 grid from the start of this season but
The Frenchman was in an impressive form in the Super Formula Championship. It left him just half a point behind leader Hiroaki Ishiura with just one round remaining on 22 October.
Gasly has been Red Bull Racing’s reserve driver since 2015. Now he will get his first test in an F1 race setting in Malaysia.
Thanks for all your messages & great support! It has been an amazing day, a dream coming true. #F1
— Pierre Gasly ?? (@PierreGASLY) September 26, 2017