Above: 21-year-old Pierre Gasly will be hoping his opportunity in Formula One arrives sooner rather than later|Image: Formula 2
When Scuderia Toro Rosso announced that Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Saniz Jr. would remain with the team for the 2017 season, some were surprised by the decision.
These people believed that the newly crowned GP2 Champion, Pierre Gasly, had demonstrated his worth and should’ve been promoted into Red Bull’s junior team.
The Frenchman claimed four wins in 2016 and pulled off a memorable overtake on Sergey Sirotkin at Eau Rouge in the Belgian round at Spa-Francorchamps, en-route to securing the title ahead of Antonio Giovanazzi by eight points.
Pierre Gasly pictured during his sucessful 2016 GP2 Campaign|Image: Autosport
Having been unable to find a way onto the Formula One grid, Gasly rejected the idea of a year on the sidelines and followed in the footsteps of 2015 GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne in joining the Super Formula Championship.
Racing for Team Mugen, Gasly has impressed so far and currently eighth in the drivers’ standings ahead of this weekend’s race at Motegi, with a best finish of fifth last time out in Fuji.
Gasly has been keeping himself race fit in the Japan-based Super Formula Championship in 2017|Image: Red Bull
It is also worth noting that Toro Rosso have been linked with a deal to use Honda engines from the 2018 season.
Should this deal go through, signing Gasly would be benefitical for the team, as he is already developing a relationship with Honda’s engineers in the Japan-based series.
He also made a brief appearance in the FIA Formula E Championship for Renault e.Dams, where he replaced Sebastien Buemi for the Brooklyn ePrix, who had an existing commitment with Toyota in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Over the course of that weekend, he easily outperformed the experienced Nico Prost and finished seventh and fourth across the two races, demonstrating his ability to quickly adapt to a new car.
Gasly’s Renault e.Dams is wheeled across the pit lane by team personnel during the Brooklyn ePrix weekend|Image: Benjamin Schneider (Bcschneider53) via Wikipedia
On top of this, Gasly is Red Bull’s current reserve driver and drove for the team on day two of the Formula One test at the Hungaroring, competing 107 laps across the day with a best time of 1:20.337.
In contrast, Kvyat’s place in the team has been questioned after experiencing a rapid decline in form after being demoted before last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, and has only achieved five top ten finishes; in contrast, Sainz has picked up 13.
Furthermore, the Russian driver currently has seven penalty points on his FIA Super Licence for his involvement his collisions with others drivers over the last 12 months.
Sainz’s future has also been questioned after he was quoted as saying staying with Toro Rosso in 2018 would be ‘unlikely’.
Both Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. have doubts over their repsective careers with the Red Bull Junior Programme|Image: Sky Sports
This led to questions regarding his loyalty from the Red Bull hieracy and although it is believed they’ve taken up their option to keep him for next season, the Spaniard remains on Renault’s radar.
The relationship between them has also been strained after Kvyat questioned whether he wanted Sainz as a team-mate after the Canadian Grand Prix as they conflcited over their slipstreaming strategy.
This was then strained further after the pair avoided a first lap crash on the opening lap at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, in which Sainz was forced to take evasive action on the exit of Turn 1 as Kvyat went passed on the outisde of the corner.
Taking into account, the idea Gasly joining Toro Rosso next year is a no-brainer. However, with a new generation of drivers joining the Red Bull Driver Programme – most notably Niko Kari in the GP3 Series – time is slowly beginning to run out will be and Gasly will be hoping his chance comes sooner, rather than later.