In recent interviews, Pierre Gasly has discussed the support and guidance Sebastian Vettel provided to him at the beginning of his Formula 1 career in 2016.
The early stages of Gasly and Vettel’s careers were remarkably identical because both drivers competed for significant portions of their respective careers in the Red Bull program, and Gasly is still a Red Bull-affiliated driver today.
However, Gasly found himself in a challenging position in his career at the conclusion of the 2016 season as he celebrated winning the GP2 championship because there was no obvious opportunity for him to go up onto the Formula 1 grid right away.
The Frenchman never looked back after receiving a call from Red Bull motorsports consultant Dr. Helmet Marko shortly after the summer break to drive for the Toro Rosso team in Singapore in place of Daniil Kvyat.
At that point, he made the decision that he required guidance from a driver with extensive Red Bull experience, specifically Vettel, whom he had gotten to know a little better during a previous encounter. Vettel’s relationship with Red Bull was coming to an end at the moment, while Gasly’s was just beginning.
Therefore, when Gasly called Vettel for career guidance, Vettel spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with him.
“I remember once I got my my GP2 title, so 2016, and I didn’t get my chance straight away to Formula 1,” Gasly said in an interview on the monthly Tauri Talk with AlphaTauri podcast. “It was quite a hard time for me because I felt like ‘okay, I’ve done all the steps before Formula 1.”
“When I joined Red Bull – I think it was his last year at Red Bull… I was going a bit more to the factory and I got the chance to get closer to him and see how he worked with the team.”
“I called him over that winter or towards the end of the season, I just called him, being very honest and asking him his opinion about my situation: how I should handle it for my career? what steps I should make and just to get his opinion as a champion and past Red Bull driver?”
“He stayed with me for an hour, hour and a half, just telling me his views and how focused I should stay,” the AlphaTauri driver continued. “The step I should make with Red Bull, with Helmut, from his experience, etc.”
“I was super grateful for that. I didn’t expect him to help me that much.”
But Marko found his performance to be too erratic at Red Bull, so he switched him back to the junior team, now known as AlphaTauri, where he still competes alongside Yuki Tsunoda today. However, he is still cognizant of the significance of that first conversation he had with Vettel.
Tsunoda did, however, mention that Vettel had previously visited him to chat and keep him company during driver parades. He also expressed his admiration for Vettel for speaking up during drivers’ briefings and expressing his opinions when most other drivers were overly concerned with the potential consequences.
“I’ve always been supportive of Seb and always respected him massively as an F1 driver, but also as a person because I think he’s definitely, genuinely a very great guy,” the Japanese driver said.
“It’s phenomenal the amount of focus, the work ethic that he’s got, is just outstanding… He’s a four-time world champion, he’s one of the most successful drivers in our sport, so you’ve got to respect that. Amazing driver, amazing guy, very driven.”
“Before the drivers’ parade this year when I was sitting by myself, he came next to me and we talked a little bit, he’s really kind.”
“Every time he puts a lot of effort to make every situation better, even the things that most of us Formula 1 drivers struggle to say.”
“But Seb thinks up really good things, probably will sacrifice something. He always says straightaway and I like his personality so much and definitely Seb is a really important guy in Formula 1.”