‘I always knew Red Bull would win again’: Gasly on Verstappen’s 2021 triumph

Max Verstappen claimed his first world title last year after passing Sir Lewi Hamilton on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Pierre Gasly maintains that he was always certain of Red Bull’s return to the top of the tree in Formula 1, and was aware that Max Verstappen would give it everything he had on the final lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Verstappen and Sir Lewis Hamilton squared up in an enthralling title battle last season as Mercedes and Red Bull battled for supremacy.

The pair claimed 18 of the 22 race victories between them in a season dominated by the two very best the pinnacle of motorsport has to offer, and they headed into the final round of the season at the Yas Marina Circuit level on points.

With the Briton looking certain to take the race win and secure his record eighth championship, a Safety Car caused by a crash for Nicholas Latifi allowed the 24-year-old a free pit stop and, with the aid of a highly contentious restart by race director Michael Masi, he snatched his first-ever championship on the final lap of the race.

Gasly spent half a season alongside Verstappen at Red Bull in 2019 and, although he endured a torrid time of it, he was if nothing else able to experience first-hand the brilliance of the now world champion.

As a result, he had no doubt in his mind that the Dutchman was going full send on the last tour of the circuit.

“I was sure that Max would go all out on fresh soft tyres to win the championship,” he told Motorsport.com.

“We are talking about the chance to become World Champion with only one lap to go. It’s hard to imagine what that must have been like in the car. You just have to get past the other car.”

Verstappen’s darting move into Turn five was demonstrative of the fantastic overtakes that have helped get him to where he is in his career, and the Frenchman appreciated the quality of the overtake.

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“I thought it was a great move by Max and the corners that followed were also very intense. This was one of those moments that will be talked about in our sport for years to come,” he added.

Verstappen became Red Bull’s first world champion since Sebastian Vettel’s last of his four successes in 2013, and the Rouen-born racer was always adamant that the team he is aspiring to once again get to would claim the throne again.

“I always knew Red Bull would win again at some point,” he said.

“They have won the title four times with Sebastian Vettel and have a brilliant team full of clever people. I knew it was coming.”

However, he concedes that it was an unpredictable battle between the drivers who can now both call themselves world champions, and says that he would often watch races back to indulge himself in the battles going on out front.

“But it was so intense last year that I wasn’t sure if it was going to be Max or Lewis,” he explained.

“It was great to follow the battle between the two best Formula One teams of the moment.

“I watched the highlights after the weekend races last year and loved seeing what was happening at the front of the field.”

Gasly will once again line up alongside Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri in 2022, but has admitted that he is not sure what his future holds if he does not secure a drive with Red Bull in 2024 at the end of his current contract.