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Perez’s new deal with Red Bull raises questions for Gasly and his successors at the junior team RaceFans

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It’s not uncommon for a Formula 1 driver’s future to be completely out of their hands. It is generally the case for drivers who are not Lewis Hamilton or Max Verstappen.

However, many gain endorsements from teams before reaching F1, raising the expectation that they will move up the ranks to become a senior member of the team, if the opportunity arises.

For a driver like Pierre Gasly, that step came too soon at Red Bull in 2019. He now appears to be stuck at a crossroads after the team announced Sergio Perez had re-signed to stay alongside Verstappen in the senior team until the end of the season. 2024. .

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Red Bull’s decision is rational. Pérez is a driver who has consistently delivered in races to win important points in his fight for the championship and has accepted the occasions when he has had to serve as ‘number two’ for Verstappen with grace.

Pérez signed his new contract with Red Bull before the victory in Monaco

But the decision to sign Perez raises obvious questions for Red Bull’s junior program and for the driver who apparently occupies the leadership spot within its structure, Gasly.

Last season, Franz Tost, Red Bull junior F1 AlphaTauri team principal, praised Gasly for his impressive performances, adding that he would be ready to return to Red Bull in the future if given the chance.

Gasly had a bumpy ride to the top. He was called up to Red Bull from the junior team (then called Toro Rosso) ahead of the 2019 season after just one full year in F1. But his time on the top team ended before he started. Demoted mid-season, he was replaced by Alexander Albon, another of Red Bull’s many junior drivers.

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Gasly is not the only driver Red Bull has dropped, as the team struggled to field two competitive drivers during one season. Six years ago, Daniil Kvyat was abruptly demoted to bring the young Verstappen into the team.

Pierre Gasly, Red Bull, Hungary, 2019
Gasly’s tenure at Red Bull was brief

Granted, that gamble paid off, as the number ‘1’ on Verstappen’s RB18 shows. But the merry-go-round he set in motion led to Daniel Ricciardo exiting the team, Gasly and Albon in turn being temporarily installed as his replacements, with the latter falling to make way for Pérez who, significantly, was not part of the Red program. young bull riders.

That has left a talent like Gasly on the table with seemingly limited options for his future in Formula 1, despite the impressive work he has done to defend his place at the highest level of the sport.

He reached the podium for the first time before the end of the 2019 season, in emotional circumstances following the death of his good friend Anthoine Hubert earlier in the year. He took his first F1 victory in unexpected circumstances at the Italian Grand Prix the following year.

There was no repeat for Gasly in 2021, but his consistent performance was arguably more impressive. While Verstappen took the title, Gasly finished ninth, beating rookie teammate Yuki Tsunoda by 78 points.

Next year, when his current contract expires, will be Gasly’s fifth full season with his current team. The choice he has to make is to stay within Red Bull or seek a gap in the driver market elsewhere.

The easy choice would be to stay in AlphaTauri. But the goal of a junior team is to act as a platform for greater success. Five years in the same junior team is not what Gasly had planned, and presumably neither was Red Bull.

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Speaking exclusively to RaceFans before Perez’s new deal was announced, Gasly insisted he was good enough for a second chance at Red Bull and prove himself to the team.

Perez deal leaves Gasly “considering all options” for the future

“The driver I am today is much better than the driver I was after a year,” Gasly said. “If they saw at the time that he was the right fit for the team after such a short time, then now there’s even more reason to think I’m ready to get that seat.”

He now admits he is “considering all options” after learning of Perez’s new contract after the Monaco Grand Prix. “The impact that it has on my career and with the ambitions that I have, it obviously affected it,” Gasly said.

“So that’s what we’re discussing right now with Helmut [Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport consultant] obviously to find what’s best for all of us and how we go from there.”

“Beyond 2023 I consider all options as I don’t have anything beyond that.

“These are things we must discuss with Helmut. They obviously want to keep me on the show, but we have to figure out how to make this work. These are just normal conversations that are ongoing.”

There are few alternatives for Gasly. Albon now races for Williams but retains Red Bull sponsorship; perhaps they would make a similar arrangement with Gasly to keep him within their orbit.

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Gasly has indicated that he is open to such a plan: “At the moment, I would say yes. I don’t want to give any more details because I don’t want to make headlines about what’s going on.”

F3 champion Hauger is Red Bull’s top scorer in F2

Seeing the final year of his contract with AlphaTauri will put Gasly on the market at the same time other openings appear. He may have an eye on Ricciardo’s underperformance at McLaren, whose contract expires at the end of 2023. More optimistically, he may even think about Hamilton’s place at Mercedes, although Silver Arrows will have the market’s choice if the the seven-time world champion chooses not to extend his current contract.

Perez’s new contract also has implications for Red Bull’s junior driver programme. They are not short of talent, despite recent developments regarding Juri Vips: Dennis Hauger and Liam Lawson currently hold the top 10 positions in Formula 2 and a handful of other young prospects are rising through the lower ranks.

Everyone will have their eyes on the seats at AlphaTauri, knowing that Red Bull’s two spots are locked until 2025. So what’s next for the young Red Bull drivers hoping to make the move to F1? Seeing one of their most coveted spots occupied by a driver who came from outside the show doesn’t seem to inspire those on it.

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