Russell proved he deserves a seat at a top team when he filled in for Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes in Bahrain, despite him missing out on the win due to a combination of bad luck and a team error in the pits.
In an interview with Speedweek, Ricciardo has said Gasly and Russell are quite evenly matched in his opinion:
“It is difficult to say whether Gasly or Russell is ahead [with regards to their respective 2020 performance],” the Aussie, who will driver for McLaren next year, said.
“I think they both had a very strong season. Gasly won a crazy race and has also shone with good qualifying results.
“He certainly showed mental strength after leaving Red Bull Racing. It’s not easy when the media and everyone says you’re not good enough,” Ricciardo added.
Since returning to Scuderia AlphaTauri – or Toro Rosso, as it was known prior to 2020 – Gasly has firmly established himself as the team’s number one driver and had a number of standout performances, such as his podium in Brazil last year and, more recently, his win at Monza.
His improved form prompted speculation that he could be in contention for the second Red Bull seat alongside Max Verstappen, which he lost to Alex Albon in the middle of the 2019 F1 season.
However, in late October, Scuderia AlphaTauri confirmed that Gasly will be driving for the team next year – and Red Bull later announced that Sergio Perez will be replacing Albon.