AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost has admitted that Pierre Gasly may have found himself out of Formula 1 in 2024 had Red Bull not allowed him to join Alpine, with the team boss having praised the Austrians for making a “fair decision”.
Gasly was a formidable part of the AlphaTauri team, with the French driver having completed five seasons for the Faenza-based outfit.
In the middle of that five-year spell came a short stint at Red Bull, where he failed to perform alongside Max Verstappen.
After being dropped back to the sister team by Red Bull, Gasly always expressed his intent on returning to the Milton Keynes-based team one day, almost in a sense to prove them wrong.
Whilst he never got a chance, he arguably did enough to warrant a move back to the Austrians, having claimed multiple podiums for AlphaTauri and their first win since 2008.
His switch to Alpine simply had to happen, with it having become vividly clear that Red Bull would never promote the Frenchman again, meaning he was effectively hogging a seat that could go to a future Red Bull prospect.
“This was the reason why Red Bull decided to release him from the contract,” Tost told The Race at the end of 2022.
“Red Bull decided not to take him. And Pierre wanted to go to another team. Because of all these changes with [Sebastian] Vettel stopping, [Fernando] Alonso going to Aston Martin, the seat at Alpine was free.
“Red Bull did something very fair to let him go to Alpine. This was clear for me, because otherwise the risk would have been far too great that he doesn’t have a seat for 2024. Then all the cockpits are full.
“It’s not an easy one [to accept Gasly’s exit]. But in the end I think it’s a fair decision.”
Whilst Gasly failed to demonstrate his potential at Red Bull, he led AlphaTauri tremendously and grew in maturity as a driver, with the Frenchman having been a consistent points finisher.
Tost is aware that losing Gasly is a “loss” to the team, given how much success he brought the Italians.
“We lose a very experienced driver who brought a lot of success to the team, who helped to build up the team,” said Tost.
“It will be a loss. There’s no doubt about this.”