Pierre Gasly had held out hope his stirring performances for AlphaTauri would be enough to earn a recall to the championship-contending Red Bull works team for 2022 – but it was not to be. But Red Bull boss Christian Horner says Gasly remains part of the family and he would “never rule anything out” regarding a recall.
Gasly has been one of the outstanding drivers of the 2021 season, scoring points in 10 of 14 races – with a podium in Azerbaijan – to put him ninth in the drivers’ championship. He has also almost single-handedly kept AlphaTauri in the hunt for fifth-place in the constructors’ standings, given the struggles rookie team mate Yuki Tsunoda has had with getting up to speed in F1.
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That kind of form led many to think a move back to Red Bull was possible. But last month, Sergio Perez was given a contract extension to stay at Red Bull for a second campaign alongside championship leader Max Verstappen, with AlphaTauri confirming last week that Gasly would continue to lead the Faenza-based squad, with Tsunoda staying as his team mate.
But when asked if Gasly – who was demoted by Red Bull after 12 underwhelming races with the team at the start of 2019 – could potentially be a candidate for a return to the team at some point in the future, Horner replied: “I would never rule anything out.
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“He’s driving at a very nice standard. He’s still very young, he’s doing a great job. For 2023, we have multiple options available to us, so when you’re in the situation that we are, that’s exactly what we want.”
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He added: “Pierre Gasly has done a phenomenal job with AlphaTauri the last couple of seasons, and their aspirations continue to grow, so for him to retain the lead drive there is good. He remains a Red Bull Racing driver on loan to AlphaTauri.”
Red Bull are in a very strong place right now in terms of driver options. They have Verstappen contracted until the end of 2023, while Perez is doing a solid, if unspectacular, job in the other car.
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They retain an option to bring Albon back from Williams to Red Bull or AlphaTauri in 2023 – and could promote either Gasly or Tsunoda, too. Should they do that, they have a plethora of drivers in the junior formulae.
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“We have this group of young talent coming through,” said Horner. “We have Liam Lawson and Juri Vips in F2, we have got Dennis Hauger leading the way in F3 and an exciting young American, Jak Crawford.
“So there is strength and depth in the junior programme.”
Remarkably, at least eight of the 20 drivers on the grid next year (40%) will have come through the Red Bull junior programme or been recruited by the works team: Verstappen, Perez, Gasly, Tsunoda, Albon, Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo.