WHO WILL REPLACE PIERRE GASLY AT RED BULL? HERE ARE THE FIVE CONTENDERS
Poor old Pierre Gasly. I don't have anything against the man, it's obvious that he has something that has enable him to capture the drive at Red Bull (the Frenchman won the GP2 series in 2016).
2018 was a decent enough season for him, although I felt that pundits overlooked that he was merely good rather than amazing, largely due to the major points haul in Bahrain where he finished in fourth place.
But 2019 was supposed to be the breakout season for him. Daniel Ricciardo abruptly left Red Bull in August last year, and, not to be harsh, but Red Bull had no other choice but to promote him for this years season.
The alarm bells began ringing with a P11 in Australia after failing to get out of Q1, and P8 wasn't great in Bahrain, especially with multiple retirements ahead of him, promoting him up the leaderboard.
Then came a decent enough string of results: P6 in China, Retirement in Baku, P6 in Spain and P5 in Monaco. It seemed that the Frenchman was finally settling into the big team.
But the worrying form came back in Canada, finishing just P8, then an awful P10 in France (of which he only got due to Daniel Ricciardo's penalty), and to top it off, he got lapped by his team-mate, who won the race, finishing P7, racing with Alfa Romeo and McLaren rather than Ferrari and Mercedes like his team-mate.
Neither Daniil Kvyat or Daniel Ricciardo had a tough start in their debut seasons with the team, and Helmut Marko is not known for being patient with driver development. It's clear right now that if they had a better second driver, then they could challenge Ferrari for second place in the constructors (Max is now three points ahead of Vettel in the championship).
So what do they do now? The alarm bells must be ringing, right? I think that Red Bull will give Gasly until the Summer break to get back in form, so Silverstone, Germany and Hungary, and if not, then, by Spa, I think that they'll be talking to some other drivers.
But who could they be? Here are the five possible replacements for Pierre Gasly at Red Bull, starting off with the titular driver of this article.
Yep, it could be happening. Fernando Alonso left the world of F1 after a failed long-term move back to McLaren, that didn't even yield a podium finish in his four year stint at the Woking team, however has build a foundation for the success of the 2019 McLaren.
There's no chance for the two-time world champion to return to McLaren as it is clear that Norris and Sainz Jr. are there for the long term, but recently with the woes of Pierre Gasly it has emerged that he could be in the running for an unlikely return to the sport with Red Bull.
The Spaniard has come close before to signing with the team, first off in 2008 when he was leaving from McLaren, but ultimately chose to go back home to Renault, with Marko stating that his price was the main problem.
There were also rumours in 2015 if Alonso would go to Red Bull and effectively have a swap deal with Vettel going the other way to Ferrari, but that never materialised.
The one drawback for this deal is that Honda don't exactly have the best of relationships with Alonso. The former Ferrari driver had been hyper critical of the Japanese engine manufacturer during his stint with McLaren, and a returning Alonso could hinder the progress they have been making.
Could 'the torpedo' make a at-one-point impossible return to Red Bull? The twenty-five year old has tons of experience, taking multiple podiums and having lead many laps of races.
In 2019, he did the impossible and returned to Toro Rosso, and immediately impressed on Australia, holding P10 and holding off Pierre Gasly of all people. Spain, Monaco and Canada was the Russians best streak of the season, finishing inside the top ten on all of them, ninth in Spain, a truly awesome P7 in Monaco and P10 in France.
Lately Toro Rosso haven't had great pace, but there's no doubt that a return is definitely on the cards for Kvyat to the big team.
With eighty-three starts in his career, and at just the age of twenty-five, he is the perfect blend of raw talent, youth and experience, and looks to be the perfect candidate to replace the struggling Pierre Gasly.
And of course the other Toro Rosso driver that could be in the running is Alexander Albon. The Thai-British driver is just twenty-three years old and has only raced in nine races in F1 and is already impressing the paddock with his consistent and measured style.
He finished third in the GP2 series last year, and had finished second in GP2 in 2016, so he obviously has something, but of course the big question is whether or not he can transfer it big time in F1.
So far, so good or the Toro Rosso driver. He's finished in the top ten three times, but he had a great five-race run from Bahrain to Monaco where he finished 9th, 10th, 11th, 11th and 8th. Hence the idea he's consistent.
The one big drawback is that if they promote Albon, it looks like they could be making the same mistake they did with Gasly, promoting him too soon. Will they take the jump? Or will they look elsewhere? Somewhere... outside of their own program?
The most unlucky driver on the grid. Never taken a podium, and never taken a win, largely due to the fact that he's missed the big gig by the skin of his teeth on multiple occasions; Ferrari in 2014 and Mercedes in 2017. Currently, he's found a home at Renault for the past three years, and claimed the best of the rest title last year.
Currently residing in tenth place in the championship, there's an unpleasant rumour swirling that despite Hulkenberg matching Ricciardo's points tally at 16 each, Esteban Ocon may replace him at Renault for 2020.
Of course this is just a rumour, but at Monaco there was another one where supposedly Marko had instigated talks with Hulkenberg about a 2020 drive. This was thought that it was a way for Red Bull to annoy Renault, their rivals off the track.
As we saw from Austria, the Red Bull is a race-winning machine, and for Hulkenberg this could be the big break he would be looking for, and would happily play the team game if needed to get the seat, someone Red Bull could rely on for their constructors title challenge, whilst also delivering some race wins of his own.
This is probably unlikely, but it's still a good call on Red Bull's part if they chose to promote Sergio Perez. The Mexican, along with Racing Point, has been struggling in Formula One recently, finishing P11 in Austria, with the highlight of his season was a sixth place finish in China, coming off a three race points streak starting in Bahrain, but since then has finished 12th three times and 11th last time out.
The Mexican has scored eight podium positions in his career without driving for one of the big three, the last one being in Baku 2018, and his seven year career shows he has experience, consistency, and moreover, talent.
The Mexican has been with the team for six years, but is not contracted for next season, and with Racing Point's woes, he should maybe be looking elsewhere if he wants to elevate his career, and at the age of twenty-nine, is still young in his career and has plenty to prove.
And there is one more contender, a sixth driver, who could replace Pierre Gasly...
OK, technically this isn't possible, but it's a solid possibility. We're speculating about which driver will replace Gasly in 2020, rather than whether or not they will replace Gasly in 2020. Red Bull are known for their cut-throat driver selection and mid-season changes, but I can say with some confidence that Gasly will remain with Red Bull all the way until December, as promoting Daniil Kvyat mid-way through the season would not solve their problems. If they chose Kvyat for 2020, then they should allow the young Russian a full pre-season to get used to the car.
So, can Gasly did himself out of the whole? Well, the twenty-three year old Frenchman is obviously talented, being a Former GP2 champion. It's hard for a driver to settle into a new team, especially when your team-mate is Max Verstappen and your car has the potential of winning races, but it is possible that Gasly could drive his way out of the problems.
The start for him this weekend at Silverstone would be for a Top 6 finish. He doesn't need to be close to Verstappen, wherever the Dutchman ends up in the race, but the Frenchman needs to distance himself away from the midfield pack of Alfa Romeo, McLaren, and Renault, where he has been fighting for a majority of the year.
Once he has a few P6 finishes under his belt, then he could build on that and aim for higher results, but its a big if whether or not the young driver has it in him to do this.