The newly rebranded Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda is finally ready to make its Formula 1 debut this weekend at the Austrian Grand Prix, and driver Pierre Gasly can not wait to get behind the wheel in “the best shape of his life”.
While racing for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing at the time, the Frenchman finished a disappointing seventh at the Red Bull Ring in 2019. It was less than stellar performances like that which saw him relegated to then Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda, and saw Alex Albon take his seat.
Gasly finished seventh in the drivers standings as well at the end of the year, and got his first career Formula 1 podium in Brazil to highlight his campaign. Alex Albon, the man who took his seat, finished only three points behind him. While it is likely he won’t be competing with Albon this year, hopefully AlphaTauri will be points contenders once again this season.
Over the hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gasly had quite the traveling tale which saw him stuck with his trainer in Dubai. This proved to be a blessing in disguise for the 24 year old, who told the tale in a press release.
“After Australia was cancelled, I went to Dubai as that had always been my plan to go there before moving onto Bahrain for the second race,” he said.
“I thought I’d spend two or three days there to see how the situation evolved. Then we saw that Italy had shut its airports, so I couldn’t go back there and I also did not want to go back to France and maybe put my family at risk after all the flights I’d been on. So, I decided to stay in Dubai with my trainer and we effectively had a two month training camp.
“Restrictions in Dubai were pretty much the same as in Europe and you had to wear a mask and gloves to go outside the apartment.
“In Dubai, I probably trained for 58 days out of 60, so physically I’m in the best shape of my life and I’ve really improved. I spent some time playing online with some friends and I also decided to improve my Italian and took some lessons online.
“I also worked on getting my boat pilot’s license, as well as doing some real karting and playing golf. When I got back home to France, I continued with the karting and also took part in the virtual F1 and Le Mans races which was a fantastic experience.
“It was fun and filled the time. I also kept in touch with the team, talking to Franz [Tost] every week, as well as my engineer. Then finally, we got to drive a real Formula 1 car again at Imola for the filming day, first in the 2018 car and then in this year’s. It was incredible, especially at Imola, one of my favourite tracks, where I last raced in 2012. It made me super happy.”
Gasly, like all of us, has missed racing dearly and he is ready to get back on the track. Despite the lack of fans, he said that getting back in the car will bring back some semblance of normalcy.
“I miss racing, the adrenaline, the competition and the speed, so it’s super that we can start again,” Gasly said.
“It’s going to be really busy with a race nearly every week, so it’s a very exciting time right now. It’s a shame there will be no fans at the first few races, but I feel it was important to get the season started as soon and as safely as possible. Hopefully things will free up in the coming months.
“I trust all the safety requirements to be in place. There are certainly plenty of restrictions in terms of how we can move about and talk to people, with all sorts of health related rules in place. It’s not straightforward and we will take all the necessary precautions.
“For the drivers, at least when we are in the car, it will all seem like normal. It’s outside that things are more complicated.”