The Formula One summer break has certainly been very interesting.
In the last few weeks alone, two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso announced that he will be retiring after 17 seasons of ups and downs, Carlos Sainz will be replacing him at McLaren, and Daniel Ricciardo announced that he will be leaving Red Bull Racing and teammate (or rival) Max Verstappen for Renault.
Yes, it's been a very unusual break, and it's about to get even more interesting.
With the newly opened race seat in Red Bull for the 2019 season, many had questioned who would team up with “Mad” Max and their new engine supplier, Honda. As it turns out, it's someone from the Red Bull organization, and he's already familiar with Honda power.
Red Bull Racing announced that Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Pierre Gasly has been named as the successor to Daniel Ricciardo's vacated race seat.
“The Team is delighted to announce that Pierre Gasly will join us from the beginning of the 2019 season, to race alongside Max,” the Red Bull Racing F1 team announced on their official website.
Succeeding Ricciardo will be no easy feat, as the Australian has 7 wins to his name, including this year's Monaco grand prix. His upcoming teammate, Verstappen, likewise has several wins to his name, notching up 4 top spots since he himself moved from Toro Rosso to Red Bull in mid 2016. The Frenchman, it appears, is very excited to move up from the “junior” Red Bull team.
“To be awarded a drive at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing from 2019 is a dream come true for me, I’m so excited to be joining this top Team,” said Pierre Gasly in an official statement from the team. “It has been my goal to race for this Team since I joined the Red Bull Junior Driver Programme in 2013, and this incredible opportunity is another step forward in my ambition to win Grands Prix and compete for World Championships.”
The practice of Red Bull Racing promoting junior drivers to their race seats from Scuderia Toro Rosso is not new. Both Verstappen and Ricciardo came from STR. Sebastian Vettel was also moved up to Red Bull Racing from STR; Vettel garnered Toro Rosso their one and only win in 2008.
“Red Bull has always looked to fight for championships or victories and that’s what I want. I’m a really competitive guy and when I do something it’s always to fight for the best and top positions,” concluded the Frenchman.
Gasly indeed has some big shoes to fill, and if he has the same success as Ricciardo, those shoes may be filled with champagne.