One year after Red Bull dumping, Gasly delivers maiden F1 triumph
Monza (Italy) (AFP)
Pierre Gasly jumped for joy on Sunday and then admitted he was too happy for words after claiming his maiden Formula One victory a year after being demoted by Red Bull to their junior sister team Alpha Tauri.
His stubborn and skilful drive to a stirring triumph in a tumultuous Italian Grand Prix was celebrated deliriously by the Faenza-based team on a day when their grandee fellow-Italians Ferrari suffered another debacle, this time on home soil.
It was only the former Minardi and Toro Rosso outfit's second win in Formula One since entering the sport in 1985.
Gasly, 24, had struggled to make any impression as Max Verstappen's team-mate in the first half of 2019 and was replaced by rookie Alex Albon in August last year.
"I've gone through so many emotions in the last 18 months," said the Frenchman.
He returned to Toro Rosso, this year renamed Alpha Tauri, to recover his confidence and registered a second place for the team in Brazil before the end of last season.
This year, he has improved and on Sunday delivered a result he and the team could only have dreamed of until a series of incidents – including accidents, penalties and safety cars -- threw up an unexpected opportunity.
"To be honest, I can't believe it," he said.
"I just can't realise what's happening right now. It was such a crazy race!
"We took full advantage of the red flag. The car was very fast today and we had a pretty fast car behind us.
He added: "On my first podium last year, I was already... wow. And now my first win, with AlphaTauri... and at Monza. I just can't believe it."
Gasly became the first Frenchman to win a F1 race since Olivier Panis won a rain-hit 1996 Monaco Grand Prix.
He finished first ahead of Carlos Sainz of McLaren, aged 26, and Lance Stroll of Racing Point, aged 21, in one of the youngest top-three podium finishers in modern times.
"This team has done so much for me. They have given me my first opportunity in Formula One, my first podium and now my first victory," he said.
"It is really crazy. I am so happy, I can't say enough.
"I am so grateful to everyone on the team and to Honda. It is a power circuit here at Monza -- and we won the race.
"So, it's a great day. I can't believe this happened to Alpha Tauri. We've just been focusing on ourselves and working on the car, step by step, since last year."
© 2020 AFP