Daniel Ricciardo reveals which driver he’s most impressed by

Daniel Ricciardo was replaced by Pierre Gasly at Red Bull in 2019.

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo has praised the spirit of AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly for the Frenchman’s performances since he was released by Red Bull.

Ricciardo left Red Bull for Renault at the end of 2018, with Gasly earning a promotion after some solid displays with junior team Toro Rosso at the end of 2017 and throughout 2018.

It was a dream move for the 2016 GP2 champion, who had gone on to race in Japan’s Super Formula in 2017 prior to his Toro Rosso call-up when Daniil Kvyat was dropped.

2019 was a horrible half season for Gasly though; he struggled to make it onto the front two rows while team-mate Max Verstappen battled for pole, and he often found himself running over half a second slower than the Dutchman.

READ: ‘We used to wash out and overheat’: Pierre Gasly praises AlphaTauri upgrades

Verstappen won the qualifying battle 11-1, and won two races while scoring five podium finishes as he comprehensively out-performed the struggling young driver.

It was a mental battering for Gasly, and he was taken out of the firing line during the summer break that year as Alex Albon stepped up to replace him for the final seven races of the year.

Later that year though, the now 26-year-old finished on the podium in Brazil, before winning the 2020 Italian Grand Prix.

Gasly would end up on the podium in Baku last season, but the pace of the AlphaTauri car has meant that a best finish of P6 in Azerbaijan this year is the best he has managed – team-mate Yuki Tsunoda finished seventh in Imola.

Article continues below

Ricciardo, who himself has been under pressure amid his McLaren struggles, takes a lot of joy from seeing his good friend succeed post-Red Bull.

READ: ‘Quite mad’: Pierre Gasly lashes out at the FIA after 2022 Hungarian GP

“Personally, I like Pierre Gasly,” he told the Express.

“For the record, he’s not the only driver I like,I like him as a person, but also what he’s demonstrated, and he’s not the only one.

“Getting to the top of Red Bull, he got a really big opportunity with them and it was fairly short-lived.

“He got to the top, but as quickly as he got there, he got knocked back down, he’s showing really good character traits, really good resilience because he’s still fighting.

“Through all of that, he actually managed to win a race in 2020, he had a few podiums, so I think when everyone wrote him off, he came back even stronger.

“I’m happy for him as a human because I do like him, but as a competitor I respect that. Getting to the top is difficult, staying there is even harder.

“He went through a pretty big rollercoaster in 12 months, and I just know that he really fought back well from getting written off.”

Gasly is contracted to AlphaTauri until the end of next season, but both he and Ricciardo have been linked with the vacant Alpine seat amid Fernando Alonso’s departure and Oscar Piastri’s rebellion against his team.