For someone who started his 2022 world championship with a disconcerting DNF at Bahrain, the first Grand Prix of the year only to improve in the very next race at Saudi Arabia (P8), life’s not too bad for a certain Pierre Gasly.
The Frenchman just re-signed with his Alpha Tauri team and is confirmed for a 2023 drive with the Italian racing side. This essentially means, there’ll be no driver changes for the Franz Tost-led side and Gasly will drive alongside Tsunoda next year as well.
Though make no mistake; 2022 has been anything but a fairytale ride for the Rouen-born driver given what he’s been able to achieve- rather not achieve- given the nine races held so far.
And sixteen points on the whole from nine races (held so far) only suggest the tipping point. Pierre Gasly’s predicament lies beyond the lowly eleventh where he currently finds himself stationed beyond names like Bottas, Ocon, and Alonso, in that order.
If Gasly’s 2022 season could be described through a diagrammatic representation, then perhaps it would be only fair to suggest that he’s had a zig-zagging season.
There’s this Pierre Gasly who managed a fabulous run at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, where he gathered a fighting fifth, his best result so far, and also incidentally the exact race position he’d garner at 2021’s year-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Then there’s the other Pierre Gasly who’s failed to score points in six of the nine races held so far. On top of that, he’s registered two DNFs as well.
In comparison to his current lukewarm form (that continues) this year, Gasly had already claimed a podium by this time last year (after nine races), which culminated in a famous third at Baku.
The only parity between a heck of a 2021 and a not such a fantastic 2022 so far, however, is that his best result has come at the famously tight street course of Azerbaijan, where overtaking is about as difficult as one finds at the principality of Monte Carlo.
But somewhere, you’ve got to cut the 26-year-old some slack.
It’s not that Gasly has forgotten driving all of a sudden; such remarks are nothing but snide digs at a very capable driver.
Perhaps the fault lies with his AT03 to an extent, which did bolster hopes of being a fast charger at the pre-season testing but hasn’t quite zipped on any track as such from what we’ve seen.
Is it as fast, particularly through the corners as an Alpine and the Alfas, and can it supplement its drivers with the confidence one needs on the straights?
It’s something that can be gauged easily by casting an eye on just how far Alpha Tauri find themselves on the Constructor Standings (Seventh with 27 points) in comparison to Alpine (Fifth with 57 points) and Alfa Romeo (Sixth with 51 points).
And while he’s been constantly shunting up and down on the grid for much of this season besides the constant drivel of being horribly out of form, the former Red Bull driver has also answered back his critics rather admirably.
It’s one thing to keep an inexperienced teammate like Yuki Tsunoda, contesting in only his second-ever F1 season, behind.
But it’s something quite different to defy a great of the grid like Lewis Hamilton.
At Imola, round four of the season, the best epithet one could describe Gasly with was perhaps that of a wall in keeping Lewis Hamilton behind his Alpha Tauri for nearly half the race.
His staunch defence of his P12, a position that though didn’t fetch him any points, went on to only frustrate the experienced seven time world champion, who tried every possible move at the twisty Italian track to go ahead but in vain.
To many, Pierre Gasly was able to do what he did thanks to making more use of the DRS, but how often does one keep a great Briton like Hamilton in one’s rearview mirrors?
What Gasly definitely needs are more finishes like the one he had at Baku, where he began the contest, lest we forget, being sandwiched by the two Mercedes’.
Though what he also needs are a few moments of luck and darn, some qualifying pace.
Slotting himself on to a tenth, as he did at Bahrain, or an eleventh, as he did at Australia isn’t going to help.
Is there a lesson to extract from the performances of the older guards of the sport, such as Alonso’s ballsy P2 start at the Montreal-bound Canadian GP?
And truth be told, one can always place a safe bet on a driver of the capability and confidence of Gasly.
It appears, all he needs to turn his season on its head are two races at the most, if not just a solitary stellar outing on the track.