AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly has divulged conversations he has had with Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, which helped him at the start of his Formula 1 career.
Gasly was signed to the Red Bull system towards the end of Vettel’s time at Red Bull, and he went on to achieve 13 podiums and four wins in 2015 and 2016 in the GP2 series.
The French won the title in the latter of those seasons before it took on its current name – Formula 2.
Winning a feeder series generally rules a driver out of competing in it again – the W Series being an exception since its arrival in 2019.
As a result, Gasly was looking for a drive, but there was nothing available to him at the start of the 2017 season.
He was still a Red Bull junior, and he would still be able to go and attend races, spending time with good friend Charles Leclerc, who himself won the F2 crown that year.
Gasly had to look elsewhere, and he found the Super Formula in Japan. He won two of the seven races he contested there and claimed three podiums, before his F1 break finally came.
Daniil Kvyat was dropped by Toro Rosso after a string of unfortunate results, the Russian still reeling from his harsh Red Bull exit the year previous which gave way to the exceptional Max Verstappen.
Carlos Sainz would head off to Renault to replace the dropped Jolyon Palmer, but not before he partnered Gasly at the Red Bull junior team in Malaysia.
Until the now 26-year-old’s debut in Sepang though, he had no idea when an opportunity in the pinnacle of motorsport might present itself.
That is when he got in touch with Vettel, with whom he had briefly worked at Red Bull, and the four-time champion helped him immensely as he tried to figure out where his career was taking him.
“I have so much respect for Seb,” said Gasly..
“I had the chance to when I joined Red Bull, I think it was his last year at Red Bull, so 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.
“To me it’s phenomenal the amount of focus, the work ethic that he’s got, is just outstanding and I mean 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, and I remember once I got my GP2 title, so 2016, and I didn’t get my chance straight away to Formula 1.
“It was quite a hard time for me because I felt like ‘okay, I’ve done all the steps before Formula 1’.
“And yeah, I called him over that winter or towards the end of the season and I just called him, being very honest and asking him his opinion about my situation and 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.
“And we had a call actually in Singapore and he stayed with me for an hour, hour and a half, just telling me his views and how focused I should stay, the step I should make with Red Bull, with [Dr] Helmut [Marko] from his experience etc.
“And I was super grateful for that, I didn’t expect him to help me that much.
“So, you know, 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.”
Gasly’s team-mate Yuki Tsunoda also shared a story about the German, testifying that he always makes time to comfort others and make sure they are okay.
“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,” said the 22-year-old.
“And his personality, the things I kind of don’t have, for example in drivers’ briefings, 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, because there’s lots of things that might happen in the background.
“But Seb thinks up really good things, probably will sacrifice something, but he always says straightaway and I like his personality so much and definitely Seb is a really important guy in Formula 1.”
Vettel announced ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix that he is to retire at the end of this season, and tributes immediately poured in from drivers, teams, journalists, fans and more.