Is Pierre Gasly Really The Right Decision for Alpha Tauri?
The door for a Red Bull return for Pierre Gasly is firmly closed, but is this the right decision for the Red Bull driver programme?
Pierre Gasly became the first confirmed driver for Alpha Tauri for 2021 yesterday and I couldn't be happier for him. He has been one of the stand out performers on the grid throughout this season, outperforming his mid-field car, he thoroughly deserves the drive for next year. My concern, however, is whether this decision is the best for the 'parent team' Red Bull.
The Red Bull Dilemma
Red Bull is very open about the fact that the Alpha Tauri drives are used to develop their young drivers and prepare them to drive for the leading team. But this year, they have faced a dilemma - the two drivers in the Alpha Tauri team have both driven in the second Red Bull seat at been demoted at some point during their careers.
This means that the so-called junior team has become more of a graveyard this season with drivers that have been chewed up and spat out by the primary team. This gap in the driver programme is a problem for the Red Bull team. If the team lose their star driver, Max Verstappen, they will be have with a car being developed in a direction that their drivers won't be able to keep up with.
The solution, is to fill the Alpha Tauri team with developing drivers, giving them a chance to cut their teeth on the F1 grid in a solid mid-field team. So, if this is the case then why would they choose to put Pierre Gasly in the team? A driver that they have rejected once already and, despite winning a race this year, has been deemed not worthy of being promoted back to the main outfit.
The Options For The Second Seats
So, the question remains for the two remaining Red Bull seats. Given Alex Albon's recent performances, his place in the main team is at risk with the likely replacement being Sergio Perez or Nico Hulkenberg.
Meanwhile, the next Red Bull driver that is lined up for an F1 seat is Yuki Tsunoda - with the F2 driver currently sitting 3rd in the championship with two rounds remaining. Surely, if the young Japanese driver has enough super licence points by the end of this season, he will be a guarantee for that seat next year as it gives Red Bull a new driver option.
So, Who Loses Out?
I think the biggest loser with the Gasly confirmation is Alex Albon. With the Red Bull team leaving it late to give him a chance to prove himself, he may find himself out of a seat completely for 2021. If Red Bull choose to look outside their driver programme for 2021 and Tsunoda gets the nod for the Alpha Tauri seat, Albon will be left without many options for the coming season despite being so early in the season.
Red Bull also loses out in the decision to keep Gasly - they have confirmed that a race winner is not good enough to drive the car in their primary team. Instead, they have given the Frenchman an opportunity to showcase his skills once again, if he hasn't done enough already, to prove to teams outside of Red Bull that he is worth a shot in another team for 2022 and beyond.
And The Winners?
Well, Pierre Gasly must be the biggest winner in this situation - as I have just mentioned he has been given the golden ticket to prove himself once again and show the other team principals what he can do in the mid-field car.
The other winner for me? Alpha Tauri. The Italian team are keeping a driver that has won a race for them this season! I am confident that the team will enjoy the fact that he will drive for them again next season. The final question is who will be alongside Gasly in the Alpha Tauri for next season... Let me know your thoughts in the comments.