Pierre Gasly stepped up to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series with Arden Motorsport in 2014, having won the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Series in 2013 with Tech 1 Racing in a season-long close battle with Briton Oliver Rowland.
The eighteen-year-old Frenchman, part of the Red Bull Racing junior Programme, admits he has been happy with his performances in the first part of his rookie season, which included four podium finishes and a best result of second, which he has taken three times.
“I’m quite satisfied by the first part of the season so far,” said Gasly to The Checkered Flag. “I’m actually in the Top 3 in the championship, which is a good position to start the last 3 races. I took a lot of experience during this 6 first meetings actually, we have done 4 podiums and for sure I missed victories but we are working on it to get it after the summer break.”
He feels the Formula Renault 3.5 Series is a good place to be, with a number of drivers able to show their talents and speed up and near the front of the field, so any mistake by driver or team will be punished. He also was happy to make his first start around the streets of Monaco, even if he found the race a little tedious.
“I’ve found [the series] interesting because many drivers are able to show their speed, it’s really close all the time and on the driver side, it’s really good because you can’t do any mistakes,” insisted Gasly. “Otherwise, during this first half of the season, I’ve been for my first time in Monaco, what was really awesome even if the race was one of my most boring races I ever had but I think it’s the most exciting track during qualifying.”
The season started pretty well for Gasly, with a third place in the opening race at Monza, and the Red Bull junior driver was delighted with his efforts in Italy. He admitted the podium gave him the boost to push on in the following races.
“It was a great achievement, I was really happy,” said Gasly. “We worked really hard during the winter with Arden, and at the end the work paid on the first race. It was also good for me to start the year with a podium; it gave me the confidence to push even more for the following races.”
Round two in Aragon saw the Frenchman take his second podium of the season, besting his result at Monza with a second place in Spain. It was even sweeter for Gasly as he was made to work for the place, with Briton Will Stevens holding him back lap after lap before the Arden driver finally overtook the Strakka Racing man on the final lap of the race.
“It was one of my best finishes I would say,” said Gasly. “I really pushed until the last couple of meters to get this second place and it felt a bit like a victory. I really enjoyed this result, because it was the best place we could do this day, and we have done it.”
The Frenchman took further podium finishes at Spa-Francorchamps and at the Moscow Raceway, but last time out at the Nurburgring appeared to struggle, but his seemingly bad results were more down to bad luck than to a lack of speed.
“Nurburgring was very unfair I would say,” said Gasly. “You know some days, everything happens the wrong way, [and that] is exactly what’s happened in Nurburgring. The pace was good, I was P2 after FP2 so we could expect a good week-end but on Q1, I got traffic during my 2 pushing laps during the second set, so I didn’t do any laps whereas I was P4 on the first set. On Sunday, we left too late the pit lane on the second set, so the grip didn’t come and I got blocked on my last lap, which could be my only good lap. I was really frustrated because we had the pace to fight on the top all the weekend.
“I can’t say that I was happy of P8 but we can be happy to have scored some points after started P21. We have analysed what we could do differently and we won’t do the same mistake now. We all learn from our mistakes.”
Gasly believes a first win of the season is not far away, and hopes to put what he has learned in the first half of the year to good use when the series resumes in Hungary next month. He insists he always arrives at a circuit with the aim to win, and will be hoping the races at the Hungaroring, Paul Ricard and Jerez are able to provide that breakthrough victory.
“I will come to every race to win like usually,” asserts Gasly. “We have the pace to fight on the top, we learned a lot during this first half of the year with my team about what we should do to be competitive, so now we have to put everything together and fight for the win all the time.
“Honestly, I think we’re close to get it. We were not strong enough to get a victory when everything wasn’t perfect yet. I think we just have to carry on our work, to prepare very well the last 3 races and we will be able to fight for the win but believe me we are working on it very hard.”
Gasly feels comfortable within his Arden team, and knows the team are pushing to get better results. He also feels he has a good rapport with his team-mate Will Buller, and acknowledges the Northern Irishman is fast but has had lots of bad luck this season.
“The atmosphere within Arden is really cool,” insists Gasly. “It’s a great team with a good philosophy. Everyone is working with the other, we all want the same thing – to win – so we put the strength of everyone to be stronger. The team is always behind me to push me in the good way, and I can really feel their support, which give me even more motivation.
“My working relationship with Will is really good, we work together all the time, and he is really nice. We know that it can be helpful for both of us to work together than to work alone so it’s going well with the philosophy of the team. He got a bit of bad luck since the beginning of the year but he is fast.”