Last Sunday, Formula One started business as usual at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza; six-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton on pole position for the race and teammate Valtteri Bottas completing the front row. Perhaps the surprise was McLaren Renault Carlos Sainz qualifying in third, but Pierre Gasly and his AlphaTauri number 10 had saved a card up their sleeves.
Sports Pundit interviewed AlphaTauri Pierre Gasly in between his maiden victory at the F1 Italian Grand Prix in Monza and the Tuscany Grand Prix, which is being celebrated for the very first time this weekend at Mugello.
We talked about his victory in Monza, reflecting on his never give up attitude, the team AlphaTauri (his Italian family), and the future.
PIERRE GASLY MAIDEN VICTORY IN FORMULA 1 IN HIS OWN WORDS
“It was such a crazy race. I think it is fair to say that at the red flag, there were a lot of things going on; I really did not want to think about what was the outcome. I just wanted to focus on myself, don’t care about who is behind, try to get the right tyres on, and deliver the best I can for the team,” said Gasly.
“I think we still had 28 laps to go after the red flag, and after ten laps, I saw that Carlos was four seconds behind me, and he was closing the gap.
“When there were only 15 laps to go, I saw that Valtteri did not come back through the field and that Carlos behind me was quite fast, so it seemed like it was going to be between him and myself. From this moment, I knew we had a shot at the win, and we had an opportunity, so I was giving everything I could and trying to squeeze everything out of the car. I knew it was going to be a last-lap battle, but I told myself there was no way that I let this win go away from my hands.”
THE WORLD KNOWS WHAT HAPPENED LAST SUNDAY
The Temple of Speed delivered a thrilling, unexpected eighth round of the 2020 Formula One World Championship season, before heading to the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello in a back to back race schedule.
Over time you learn that when talking about motorsport, anything can happen, and it is always wise to have in mind that no race is over until it is over.
And the car that crossed the finish line in the first place tells a story worth telling for many years to come.
Last Sunday, and as the laps went on, Lewis Hamilton 90th Formula One race win, seem to be approaching at high speed.
But the race began to change its course when Pierre Gasly headed to his pit stop on Lap 19.
Soon after, Kevin Magnussen’s Haas came to a halt near the pit lane entry - due to a power unit issue, leading to the deployment of the Safety Car.
And it was at that exact moment, or even seconds, that strategy failed at Mercedes.
Hamilton - the leader of the race at that time, headed into the pit lane when it was already closed, an error that most likely cost him a victory in Italian soil.
Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi made the same mistake that the Brit, and as a result, the stewards handed both drivers a ten-second stop/go penalty.
The race resumed after 25 minutes, but only to be red-flagged shortly after, when Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc crashed heavily into the tyre barriers at the Parabolica.
The Monegasque driver - who was running in P4 before the unfortunate incident, suffered no physical consequences.
Gasly not only claimed his maiden victory in the pinnacle of motorsport in style but in the process, he became the first French driver to win a Formula One Grand Prix in 24 years.
The news ran faster than a Formula One car, and it did not take long for the world to made eco of the twenty-four years old achievement.
Carlos Sainz Jr. finished in second place - his best result in Formula One so far, while Lance Stroll completed the podium in third for Racing Point.
SP: Last year was tough on you for many reasons, but the questions on whether you could maintain momentum since your first F1 podium in Brazil with Toro Rosso in 2019 have been answered with a series of strong performances behind the wheel of AlphaTauri this season.
Is it fair to say the challenges you went through last year made you grow and improve as a driver?
PG: It is a lot about mentality and how you cope with that; I am not someone that gives up. I never give up for anything, especially when I have something clear in mind, when I have clear targets for myself.
I know what I want from my life, and I know where I want to be, and I will always do everything I can to get there. That is my mentality. For me, it was just a small step back on my road to my target.
In 2018, Gasly became a full-time driver for the Toro Rosso team, scoring his first points in the series and delivering performances that opened the doors to a seat with the Red Bull Racing team as a teammate to Max Verstappen for the upcoming 2019 season.
But after the summer break, Red Bull Racing announced that the young Frenchman would be returning to Toro Rosso, promoting Alex Albon to the vacant seat.
“I always believe that you learn a lot more from challenges and failures than from success. I think it is fair to say that success never comes without any failures, and I am not scared of that. I have always had my setbacks, both personally and professionally.
It would have been really easy just to be broken after the Red Bull demotion, but if anything, I have taken all that negative energy and turned it into something positive to try to lift me up,” he reflects.
“I worked very hard with the team, and I knew that with them, I had everything in my hands to show my potential. After, I just tried to focus on my own performance, not really looking at the others, taking race after race, looking at what I can improved on my side, what I can improve with the team, with my engineers, just to extract more from myself and more from that package and combination.”
SP: In retrospect, did you ever feel your future in Formula One was at risk?
PG: I enjoy every day in Formula 1 as long as it lasts. Obviously, my aim is to be a World Champion one day and to stay as long as I can because racing is my passion and I love what I do, so I will ensure that I’ll give it my all every day that I am here and show the best performance I can.
There are only 20 places in Formula 1, and the competition is high, so you have to prove that you are meant to be here every day.
Since 2019 he is a full-time driver alongside Daniil Kvyat at the team rebranded as AlphaTauri.
SP: Formula One is a team sport, in your opinion, how much the car weighs in the fate of the driver?
PG: Scuderia AlphaTauri feels like my own Italian family. I know everyone in the team quite well, and I have been with them quite a while now.
I feel like they are very supportive and give me everything I need to feel comfortable and put on the best performance I can. This team has done so much for me. They gave me my first opportunity in F1. They gave me my first podium, and now they have given me also my first win.
We worked together and improved together, and as you said, it is a team sport, so we are just doing our best together.
SP: Is there unfinished business with Red Bull Racing that can be meet next season?
PG: I think there is, but it is not up to me to make the call. I am a competitive guy, and I want the fastest car possible in my hands.
Since I was in karting, I have always fought for championships and for victories and pole positions. That is what I want to do in Formula 1 as well. That is my target.
I think now we are in a much better position because we know what didn’t work; I don’t think we would make the same mistakes again.
Obviously, I guess the strong results should be rewarded with something, but we will see what happens.
At the moment, it is not something I really want to think about; I just want to enjoy this moment and the season with Scuderia AlphaTauri, because it is my first win in F1, and I think I will have time to think about this later.
At the time of writing, Pierre Gasly sits eight in the Driver’s overall standings. He scored points in five out of the eight rounds contested so far, registering one DNF at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda - which aims to finish the season fifth in the Constructor’s Championship, sits in seventh place with 47 points.
Scuderia Ferrari, which is celebrating Ferraris 1000th race this weekend, stands ahead in sixth place with 61 points.