Gasly’s future in Formula 1 was uncertain if Red Bull did not let him leave
The decision for Pierre Gasly to switch to Alpine in Formula 1 could greatly impact the remainder of his career. His former team leader believes that if Red Bull had not allowed him to leave, he may not have had any further opportunities in the sport.
After the intense negotiations in Formula 1’s driver market, Gasly was ultimately able to join the Renault team when Alpine paid Red Bull to release him from his contract with AlphaTauri for 2023. Gasly was visibly grateful for this opportunity.
With no prospect of returning to the main Red Bull team after being dismissed in the middle of the 2019 season, and having exceeded the potential of AlphaTauri, Gasly saw no future for himself at Red Bull. He expressed his excitement about the opportunity to compete at the front of the grid and how this move was a significant advancement in his career.
According to AlphaTauri team leader Franz Tost, the transfer to Renault not only gives Gasly the opportunity to compete at the front of the grid, but also saved his career. Tost believes that if Red Bull had blocked the move, Gasly’s future in Formula 1 would have been in danger and may not have had any place on the grid in the long run.
“This was the rationale behind Red Bull’s decision to let him go from the contract,” Tost explained
“Red Bull had decided not to retain Gasly, and he wanted to join another team. The seat at Alpine became available due to the changes in the driver lineup, such as Vettel retiring and Alonso joining Aston Martin”
“Red Bull acted fairly by allowing Gasly to join Alpine. This was a wise move, as otherwise, the risk of him not having a seat for the 2024 season would have been high, as all the spots would have been filled.”
“It was not an easy decision to accept Gasly’s departure, but ultimately I believe it was fair.”
Tost argues that Gasly would have inevitably left the Red Bull team when his contract ended, and there would be no certainty of a competitive seat for him.
It could be argued that if Gasly was truly Alpine’s first choice, they would have secured a temporary driver for 2023 and waited to hire him in 2024. However, this approach would have been risky as if the temporary driver performed exceptionally well, they would have been offered a longer contract and Gasly would be left without a seat.
If Gasly were planning to leave Red Bull in 2024, he would likely not have a spot at a top team. As of summer 2022, McLaren and Aston Martin had secured their driver lineup for the near future. Therefore, his potential options could be teams such as Sauber, Haas, or Williams, depending on their own plans.
Many talented drivers have had their careers come to an abrupt end due to various reasons. In the past decade, this has happened to drivers such as Esteban Ocon, Paul di Resta, Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen. Even with a strong reputation, a free agent driver may struggle to secure a spot in the highly unpredictable Formula 1 driver market.
While Tost may have exaggerated the potential difficulties Gasly faced in the future, it is clear that the opportunity to join Alpine in 2024 was a strong one and in Gasly’s best interest. Even though Red Bull may have been negatively impacted by this decision, it was still the right one for Gasly’s career.
“Gasly brought a lot of success to the team, and his contribution helped to develop the team,” says Tost. “His departure will be a significant loss to the team, there’s no doubt about that,”
One major reason Red Bull agreed to release Gasly to Alpine is that the latter team offered a very attractive financial compensation to Red Bull for Gasly’s transfer.
It’s possible that if Tost and AlphaTauri had pushed for it, Red Bull management may have decided to retain Gasly for another year.
Although Red Bull leadership did not have a high opinion of Gasly, Tost had a strong belief in him and they had a good relationship. Gasly even mentioned last year that it was harder for some people to let him go than others. He jokingly said, “I almost saw tears in Franz’s eyes when he heard the news.”
Although Tost’s strong relationship with Gasly could have led him to want to keep him as the team’s lead driver, it also motivated him to prioritize Gasly’s best interests over his own.
Tost said, “We have a good relationship and I was disappointed because I thought he would stay with us until the end of 2023.”
Tost added, “But all the circumstances came together, and then I realized that it doesn’t make sense to keep him.”
Tost also stated, “Otherwise, the risk was too high that he wouldn’t have a good opportunity in Formula 1 anymore.”
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