What’s going on with Pierre Gasly’s future in F1?
Will Gasly move to Red Bull, Alpine or stay at AlphaTauri?
Pierre Gasly was the stand out star of Formula One in 2020.
The Frenchman won his first Grand Prix and achieved consistently good results.
Already this year, Gasly has secured a podium and with him outperforming his AlphaTauri car most weekends, fans have been asking what's next for Gasly?
Is a move back to Red Bull on the table or could he be looking elsewhere in the paddock?
Gasly's journey in Formula One started well before his first race in 2017, in fact, it all began in 2013.
The 25-year-old entered competitive karting in 2006, at the age of 10 and worked his way up through the different categories.
He enjoyed a slew of good results including second and fourth in the European and World Karting Championships respectively.
In 2011, Gasly's racing career began, as he competed in the French F4 Championship, finishing third in the standings.
He then spring-boarded to the Formula Renault Eurocup achieving two podiums but crucially losing out to Stoffel Vandoorne, Daniil Kvyat and Nyck de Vries in the standings.
Nevertheless, Gasly retained his place in the series for 2013 and switched teams joining Tech 1 Racing.
And it appeared like something clicked that season, as Gasly won the championship with three first-place titles and eight podiums.
His impressive performance attracted the attention of Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko, with Gasly soon enlisted into their Junior Driver Programme.
Come 2014, Gasly added more silverware to his trophy cabinet in the World Series by Renault, clinching eight podiums and finishing second in the standings.
He would also make his GP2 debut that year, racing in six events before enlisting full time in the series in 2015.
Whilst it wasn't his strongest year, Gasly pulled out four podiums and three pole positions.
Content with his performances, Red Bull signed Gasly as a reserve driver for the team, but it would be another two years before he actually got to race in Formula One.
Pierre Gasly wins at Monza (Red Bull Content Pool)
2016 saw Gasly remain in the GP2 series, racing against the likes of Antonio Giovinazzi and Sergey Sirotkin.
Giovinazzi, who Gasly partnered with for Prema Racing, won the most races, taking five victories, while Gasly scored four.
However, Gasly's steady results were enough for him to beat the Italian and take the title.
The following year, Gasly went on to compete in Super Formula.
The Japanese single-seater series is extremely competitive and has produced numerous F1 drivers including Michael Schumacher, Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa.
But no one quite expected Gasly's immense speed during the 2017 season as he finished second in the championship and ahead of current IndyCar series driver Felix Rosenqvist.
He also made his debut in Formula One, taking Daniil Kvyat's place at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
After the 2017 Mexican Grand Prix, Helmut Marko said that Kvyat would not be returning to Toro Rosso and that the team would race with Brendon Hartley and Pierre Gasly for the remainder of the season.
Gasly was finally rewarded with a full-time seat in Toro Rosso for the 2018 season and it's fair to say he raised a few eyebrows.
He comprehensively beat teammate Hartley in the driver's standings, with Gasly finishing 15th on 29 points while Hartley placed 19th with four points.
Gasly also shocked fans and pundits alike when he secured fifth place in qualifying and fourth place in just his second race.
Pierre Gasly for Red Bull in 2019 (Red Bull Content Pool)
So when Daniel Ricciardo decided to part ways with Red Bull in 2019, Gasly was promoted to the senior constructor.
It was hoped Gasly would form a dream team with driving superstar Max Verstappen and help Red Bull secure higher than third in the constructor's championship.
But things got off to a bad start, as Gasly crashed twice in pre-season testing causing nearly €2 million worth of damage.
While Pierre had some okay-ish results including a fourth-place finish in the British GP, he struggled to keep up with the pace of the lead group.
He was lapped by Verstappen in several races and only out-qualified the Dutchman once in the Canadian GP after a red flag hindered his lap.
It was said that Red Bull didn't like Gasly's approach to their RB15, hinting that he was too obsessed with small details, such as chasing set-up for individual corners, rather than taking a global approach.
Meanwhile, Toro Rosso's Alex Albon was putting in some decent performances, including a sixth-place finish at the German GP.
So after the summer break, Gasly was demoted back to the junior team Toro Rosso while Albon took his Red Bull seat.
Proving that he still had talent, Gasly scored five points finishes in his last nine races and an incredible second place in Brazil.
For 2020, Gasly was retained at Toro Rosso in the newly rebranded AlphaTauri alongside Daniil Kvyat.
Despite the Russian having far more F1 experience, Gasly soon took on a leadership role, consistently scoring points for the constructor.
What's more Gasly was notably outperforming Albon in some races despite having a much weaker car.
But then came the Italian GP, where Gasly claimed his maiden Formula 1 win from Carlos Sainz and Racing Point's Lance Stroll, after pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton was forced to serve a 10-second stop/go penalty, leaving him seventh at the flag.
Unsurprisingly, speculation after Monza suggested Gasly could return to Red Bull, but after being slated in the media, bosses opted to keep Albon.
At the end of the season, Gasly had comprehensively beaten Kvyat in the driver's standings, securing 75 points compared to Kvyat's 32 points.
But Red Bull was once again not interested in re-promoting Gasly, with AlphaTauri confirming his new contract for 2021 in October.
Esteban Ocon has already signed his contract (Alpine)
So far this season, Gasly has made avast improvement on his 2020 start, securing some superb qualifying times and achieving his third career podium finish in Azerbaijan.
With such success, many have wondered where Gasly will go next given his contract with AlphaTauri ends this year.
When Gasly was dropped in 2019 by Red Bull, the team left the door open for a possible return in the future.
But nearly two years down the line, it's looking more likely Gasly will head to another team.
Speaking on Drive to Survive, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said they were no longer considering Gasly for their lineup.
He said: "From a team point of view, there has been nobody pushing internally to say we've got to have Pierre back".
Horner said he believed Gasly was more comfortable in a team with less pressure and expectation, adding: "The reality is when you get there [to F1] if you can't cope with the pressure and scrutiny you're never going to make it at the highest level in Formula One."
It's also worth remembering from Gasly's perspective that if he were to rejoin Red Bull, he would be a number two driver to Verstappen - a position no driver wants to be in.
Already there have been rumours Gasly could sign for Alpine as a replacement for Esteban Ocon and replicate the path of Carlos Sainz Jnr.
On paper this would work as Gasly, a French driver would be joining a French team, which in Alpine's eyes is brilliant for marketing.
However, in May, Alpine's CEO Laurent Rossi said a seat for Gasly was "not on the cards".
He said: "We're not looking at any driver's for next year".
And prior to the French Grand Prix it was confirmed Ocon would stay with Alpine for a further three years.
Which constructor do you think Gasly could transfer to? Or do you think he'll remain with AlphaTauri in 2022?