Everyone froths a redemption story.
We love to see an athlete, young or old, overcome the odds to succeed in their sport, no matter the obstacles that stand in their way.
A David and Goliath story perhaps.
But what makes these stories greater is when our hero has been beaten down, time after time and all hope seems to be lost.
This is the exact experience that Pierre Gasly has just had.
This morning, tomorrow and forevermore he will be a Formula 1 Grand Prix winner.
Not only this, he will be a Grand Prix winner for an Italian team at an Italian circuit, one of the most special feelings in the sport.
This hasn’t come easy though and a mere 12 months ago there were questions whether he would even last in the sport or if he deserved his seat in the first place.
So lets take a look back at Pierre’s journey to what has become one of the most incredible days in F1 in recent memory.
The first event we have to look at is one that deeply hurts my heart. This is Daniel Ricciardo’s shock transfer from Red Bull to Renault. This was a move that nobody anticipated as he was deeply entrenched in the Red Bull system and had been since he was just a boy back in Australia.
Nonetheless this left the team with a gaping whole in its driver line up. Yes, they had Max Verstappen who is an incredibly talented driver and one of the top 3 in the sport currently but on his own merit Ricciardo is a top 5 driver and has been for years.
So, as they always have Red Bull looked towards their junior team, who were still called Toro Rosso at the time. The choice was obvious. They could choose Brendon Hartley, a Kiwi, who could barely keep the car on the track and was a rookie at the spritely age of 29, or Pierre Gasly, a driver who consistently out performed his car and already had a year of F1 under his belt.
As was expected, Red Bull announced the young Frenchman as their driver for the 2019 season, and whilst he wasn’t expected to perform to the level of the departing Aussie, everyone had the impression he was to finish in the top 6 every race, picking up podiums given the opportunity.
Unfortunately for Pierre, under the weight of expectation, he faltered. He was never going to outperform Verstappen, but he was absolutely miles off of his pace. Often finishing more than half a second behind in qualifying and also barely scoring points in a car that was at times the second best on the grid that year.
In his time with the top team, his best result was a 4th place and at the midway point of the season he was on a mere 63 points, compared to the 181 that Verstappen had amassed. Once again, I must reiterate, he wasn’t supposed to be on his level but being almost 3x behind was unacceptable for a team of Red Bulls calibre.
Therefore, in the Summer break before the race in Belgium it was decided that Gasly was out. In what was a callous move by team principal Christian Horner, the man had been wiped from existence. In all advertising, team apparel and social media he had been replaced by Alexander Albon, an F1 rookie with very limited experience. It was as if they didn’t care for his health or wellbeing at all.
Of course, Formula 1 is a merciless sport but even experts, pundits and former drivers expressed their concern for the Frenchman who had received a particularly short straw.
If this wasn’t bad enough, on the very weekend he was dropped from Red Bull to Toro Rosso, tragedy struck.
In the Formula 2 race that preceded the Formula 1 a horrific crash occurred. Up the legendary corners of Eau Rouge and Raidillon, drivers Anthonie Hubert and Juan Manuel Correra came together in a monumental impact. In the aftermath Correra came out with significant leg injuries and to this day is still wheelchair bound. Hubert unfortunately, passed away.
It was a moment that shocked the motor sporting world, as a young driver and a future F1 prospect lost his life. For Pierre, this hit even closer to home as he grew up with and was incredibly close friends with Anthonie.
Within the space of a week he had been dropped and lost one of this best friends. He had been kicked while he was down, and you couldn’t blame him if he didn’t want to continue on.
He did though, clawing his way back into the F1 fold.
His performances were quite remarkable as he regularly achieved the same results in his Toro Rosso as he did with his Red Bull. This bit by bit managed to repair his reputation but the nail in the coffin or the removal of the nail in the coffin rather was his performance in Brazil.
This is where Gasly achieved his first ever podium, finishing in 2nd place. Of course, there was luck involved here but he still had the composure to hold on and beat Lewis Hamilton who finished behind him.
This absolutely secured his place in the sport for 2020 and even opened up the eyes of many that perhaps Gasly was becoming an underrated driver.
Heading into the 2020 season everything was flipped on its head because of COVID-19, but despite this Gasly continued to perform well in his newly rebranded Alpha Tauri.
This was highlighted at the Italian GP in Monza. Where after an early pitstop and a red flag he was left in an incredible position to snatch his maiden Formula 1 win.
There is no need for a spoiler alert here because Gasly grabbed it with both hands and absolutely took it.
Of course, there is a great deal of luck associated with this but the composure he showed was second to none.
After all of the trials and tribulations that Pierre has experienced he came back and has risen to the top.
Since his historic win in Monza, his name has been rumoured with just about every team on the grid and it’s a sign that respect for him has skyrocketed.
People have underrated Gasly for a long time but now it seems as though his career is making forward steps again and I am excited to see how he goes now and into the future.