Last week, new Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly was keen to remind folks that he was not entering the team with a presumption that he would be fine with being a number 2 driver. That isn’t what motivates him. If you parsed the words a bit, he was effectively saying he’s not there to be Max’s wingman but to beat everyone he can including Max.
As we said on the podcast, that’s a noble charter but in reality, he is the number 2 at that team. I would absolutely expect Pierre to not cede ground even before he’s sat in the car and you’d want that from a young, upcoming driver. However, the team know the realities and in knowing those, it sounds like they’ve taken to the press to set expectations on the heels of Pierre’s comments.
“Pierre is a very quick driver and it is up to us to give him a little bit of time to get up to speed,” Horner told Autosport.
“It is faster than we would have originally liked to elevate him into the team, so Max will be very much taking on the role of the experienced senior driver and Pierre is going to have to go up against a very competitive team-mate.”
“It is not going to be easy,” Horner said. “Of course it is not. But he knows what is expected of him.
“And in actual fact, for the team, it is a far easier scenario than it has been in previous years. We have got a clear difference between the experience in the two drivers and the expectations.”
So, if Pierre felt he wasn’t anyone’s number 2, he’s just be given a polite notice by his boss that he is. The interesting thing will be his reaction. Max walked into the team with Daniel Ricciardo and had no interest in being a number 2 driver and there was friction but Max delivered performances that may have dulled the reaction folks may have otherwise had to his insouciance about team order, experienced versus non-experienced drivers et. al.
Autosport posted this as Red Bull willing to give Pierre space to develop and time in which to do so. That’s an accurate report to be sure but I tend to parse words at my own risk and I think this was a bit of a reclassification of Pierre’s expectations given his comments last week.
If Pierre wants to shine and not play valet to Max, then he’ll have to produce some incredibly good drives and give the team a reason to accept some friction in the team or even elevate him with new expectations and roles.
Max did it. Lewis did it. Sebastian did it. Alonso did it. Can Pierre?
Hat Tip: Autosport