As the French Grand Prix returns after ten years away, Pierre Gasly says that the home support will not have a negative effect on his performance, instead believing that he can use it to his advantage.
The Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda driver is looking to continue his fine form at the Circuit Paul Ricard, a venue he has never failed to reach the podium at in any category, after a disappointing Canadian Grand Prix weekend for both Gasly and Toro Rosso.
Gasly struggled for performance from the older-spec Honda power unit, opposed to team-mate Brendon Hartley‘s newer version, at the power-dependent Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This weekend Gasly will run with the upgraded unit – something that only adds to the 22-year-old’s excitement. In preparation for the weekend, the Frenchman said that he has spoken to former Grand Prix drivers Jean Alesi and Alain Prost about the occasion; Prost even won the last Formula 1 race at Paul Ricard in 1990.
“For me it will be absolutely incredible that my first full season of Formula 1 coincides with the return of a French Grand Prix to the calendar for the first time in ten years,” said Gasly.
“That has to be a reason for me to be very happy and I’m really excited to be racing in my home country.
“I can tell it will be a special feeling going out on track and actually, I have spoken to Jean Alesi and Alain Prost about it and they both told me that it will feel really special and something that you really have to experience as a Frenchman racing in France. I can’t wait to get to Le Castellet.”
French GP return “a very good thing”
When quizzed about the potential weight on his shoulders, Gasly said that the biased contingent will “feel like extra support”, adding that Formula 1’s return to France is a positive for the country’s sporting culture and important for F1’s brand.
“I won’t feel under any pressure,” he boldly stated. “On the contrary I think it will feel like extra support for me.
“It’s a very good thing for all fans of motorsport in our country. The sport has always been part of our culture; there’s a French team and three French drivers so I hope this event will reboot interest in F1 here. I’m trying to do that too of course!”
Gasly stands in eleventh in the Drivers’ Championship, one point adrift of tenth placed Kevin Magnussen, and hopes to add to his impressive points finishes in Bahrain and Monaco at a track that he believes will suit both him at the STR13. The 2016 GP2 Series champion noted his victories at Paul Ricard in the French Formula 4 and Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 championships.
“I’ve had some success at this track in the past, winning in Formula 4 and Renault 2 litre and taken pole in the 3.5 category, finishing second.
“It’s a circuit where I have always gone well, either winning or at least getting on the podium, I really like it, so I hope we can get a very, very good result on this home track.”