By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Red Bull Racing has announced that Pierre Gasly will replace the departing Daniel Ricciardo and partner with Max Verstappen for 2019.
The 22-year-old Frenchman has impressed during his first full season campaign in Formula 1. Driving for Red Bull Racing’s junior squad, Toro Rosso, he has collected three finishes in the points, including a stellar fourth-place result in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The opportunity came to light after Ricciardo elected to make a shocking move to join Renault for next season. The move became all the more likely when Red Bull allowed for McLaren to sign Carlos Sainz Jr., Gasly’s only known rival for the seat, to replace two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso for 2019.
“Since Pierre first stepped into a Formula One 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 Christian Horner, team principal at Red Bull Racing.
“His stellar performances this year at the Honda-powered team, in only his first full season in Formula One, 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.”
For his part, Gasly, who made his F1 debut in the 2017 Malaysian Grand Prix, called the chance “a dream come true.”
“It has been my goal to race for this team since I joined the Red Bull Junior Driver Program in 2013, and this incredible opportunity is another step forward in my ambition to win Grands Prix and compete for World Championships,” said Gasly, the 2016 GP2 Series champion.
“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.”
However, he admits to the pressures that come with moving to the Milton Keynes-based squad.
“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,” Gasly added.
“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.”