[Feature] Pierre Gasly: “The top 3 is possible”

Winner of the 2013 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Pierre Gasly has moved up to the next level thanks to the scholarship offered by Renault Sport Technologies. The man, who recently got his driving licence on his 18th birthday, also a member of the Red Bull Junior Team and French FFSA Circuit Team, will try to imitate Robin Frijns and Stoffel Vandoone, in battling for the title in his first year in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. On pace during the collective tests, the Frenchman hopes the momentum will accelerate.

Coming from a family where his grandfather, father and three of his brothers all raced, it was natural that Pierre Gasly tried his hand in karting before making his competition debut at the age of nine. His performances soon caught the eye of the “Fédération Française du Sport Automobile”, which integrated him into the 10-15 years of age programme then the French FFSA Karting Team.

In 2011, Pierre Gasly began his open-wheel career in the French F4 Championship. With four victories and six podium finishes during the last six races, his results allowed him to take part in testing sessions in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, “the logical next step” for the native of Normandy.

Soon among the best Europeans, he took his maiden pole position and first podium in his second outing at Spa-Francorchamps in 2012. “I didn’t drive much before, so my results were a little unexpected”, admits the Frenchman. “Alas, I wanted to do too much while my team-mate at the time, Nyck de Vries showed that the top 5 was possible. Once my errors were analysed, I learned a lot to be stronger, especially in the construction of a weekend.”

For his second season, Pierre Gasly joined the most successful team in the World Series by Renault, Tech 1 Racing. Success came after an epic duel with Oliver Rowland, who he will compete against this year in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. “Simon Abadie’s team doubled its effort for us to work and win the title together. Without the scholarship, I would certainly not be in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series”, he concedes.

Winner of the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Pierre Gasly has the scholarship offered by Renault Sport Technologies, but also the support of Red Bull after joining the Junior Team. “The FFSA has been in contact with Red Bull since the ascension of Jean-Eric Vergne. In 2012, I had the opportunity to work with the Austrian company, but they didn’t want to bring me into their team. Morgan Caron, National Technical Director of the FFSA, set up a meeting a year later after I had won the championship. A conversation with Helmut Marko led to a contract with Red Bull”, says Gasly.

“I now have access to the Red Bull simulator where I work with the engineers. I am also working with two coaches one of which was Sebastien Vettel’s. Between the physical tests, the complete nutritional studies, the sleep and mental evaluations, everything is being done to optimize my potential”, details the 18-year old driver. “I also take part in training sessions with the French FFSA Team, while also studying for my degree from the ‘Pôle Espoirs du Mans’. Once I have my diploma I will head to Milton Keynes”.

As the first meeting of the season nears, is Pierre Gasly ready to walk in the footsteps of his predecessors Robin Frijns and Stoffel Vandoorne? “As we get closer to the goal it becomes more difficult. Their successful transition is motivating, so why would I not be capable? I will give it my all to make the difference and have no regrets. Although there are a lot of new things, such as the length of the races, pit stops and dealing with the DRS, the top 3 is possible…although I am competitor who wants to win quickly!”

Another new experience for Pierre Gasly is racing for a British team: “The world of F1 is based essentially in Great Britain. So to be at Arden Motorsport is a bonus for me. I will be able to get used to their way of communicating, their visions, their methods and their experience.”

Pierre Gasly has competed in all the Renault Sport Technologies open-wheel categories, demonstrating the effectiveness of the driver development academy. “From Formula Renault 1.6 to the 2.0, it has gone well. I was a little apprehensive in the move to Formula Renault 3.5 as its potential is unimaginable, but the feelings remain broadly the same. Success proves that we are ready to do great things, like the performances of the past drivers in F1 demonstrate. The pyramid put in place by Renault Sport works and prepares you in the best way. When you wake up every morning with the goal of making it to F1 it is very motivating.”

Pierre Gasly
Born: 7 February 1996 in Rouen (France)
Height / Weight: 1.77m / 70kg
2005-2010 : Karting
2011: French F4 Championship (3rd)
2012: Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 (10th)
2013: Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 (Champion)
2014: Formula Renault 3.5 Series