Helmut Marko feels the year Pierre Gasly had racing in the Japanese-based Super Formula championship helped the Frenchman mature as a racing driver, and further prepare him for Formula 1.
Gasly initially missed out on a promotion to Formula 1 despite winning the GP2 Series title in 2016, but remained a part of the Red Bull Junior Team as he switched to Super Formula with Honda and Team Mugen, and was agonisingly close to taking the title, missing out by just half a point after the final two races were cancelled due to a typhoon.
Marko, currently an advisor to Red Bull Racing, saw Gasly’s stock rise during his time in Japan, and it came as no surprise when he was finally given his race debut in the Malaysian Grand Prix, with the twenty-two-year-old set to begin his first full season in Formula 1 alongside Brendon Hartley at Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda in 2018.
“Gasly won the GP2-series in his second year, he had a bit of bad luck but he also made mistakes,” said Marko to Motorsport.com. “He matured in Japan, which was absolutely essential.
“He had to learn to care for himself, which was possible there as nobody spoke his language. He had to get his way and he actually managed. At the end of the day he didn’t win the championship because of this strange storm, but he managed to get his team to the top. He was an absolute winner.
“It was the right decision to give him the time. Also Brendon Hartley has improved his character, now he has the experience. We expect both drivers to be in the points regularly in 2018.”