ExxonMobil F1 Q&A: Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly. [photo courtesy]

Pierre Gasly. [photo courtesy]

Surfing, learning Italian and getting technical

Q&A with…
Pierre Gasly : Driver, Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

In Formula One, every little detail matters. That’s why Pierre Gasly, race driver for Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, leaves no stone unturned in his quest to deliver on track – and that includes spending time with fuel and lubricants supplier ExxonMobil. Let’s meet the Frenchman and find out a little more about Aston Martin Red Bull Racing’s newest recruit…

ExxonMobil is in its third year working with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. Having joined the team ahead of this season, what have you made of the relationship between the two companies?

I’ve spent a lot of time at the factory and at the track learning about ExxonMobil and the impact they have on the performance of the car, whether it is power or reliability. It is insane when you look at the number of fuel samples they take and the level of detail they go into over the course of a weekend. The performance gain from a new fuel may not be big enough to feel it, but you can see it in the lap-time. The small details matter. If you find some hundredths here and some hundredths there, add them together and you could have one or two tenths – and that can make the difference in qualifying or the race. We have to push in all areas and that’s exactly what ExxonMobil and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing are doing. The ExxonMobil team are great, too. I like to pop into their lab and see how they are getting on. Plus I can also improve my Italian with Dario Izzo, their technical advisor!

You seem to really enjoy the technical side of racing, making a conscious effort to spend time with the engineers through your racing career. How crucial is it for a driver to focus on the technical aspects of Formula One?

I like to be prepared! Especially with the new generation of Formula One cars, they are so complicated that it’s important to understand the processes the engineers go through and the impacts various changes and components have on performance. It means I can improve the way I give feedback when I’m in the car. I don’t like to go somewhere with question marks over some areas – I like to be prepared. It depends on your personality, though. In lower racing series, I met team mates who didn’t care at all about this side. Some others were really extreme, spending more time on the computer than the engineers! So you see different types of drivers. I’m more in the middle. It’s also important to understand the people you are working with because at the end of the day, every single person in the garage has an impact on performance.

Your 2019 campaign has picked up in recent races. What’s life been like since earning promotion from Toro Rosso to race for the senior team Aston Martin Red Bull Racing?

Being in a top team is the best position you can be in Formula One. I’m 23 and in my second season in F1 with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, a team fighting for podiums. It’s a brilliant place to be. For me personally, it’s about trying to understand how I can get the full potential out of myself to deliver the results on track and that’s what I’m working hard to do, together with my team. As a brand, I really like the Red Bull ethos. I enjoy all the activities we get to do, like surfing and axe throwing, and it’s great that they create an amazing environment for you to grow as a driver.

Hitting the waves and surfing for the first time with world champion and master surf instructor Mick Fanning must have been pretty cool, even if there was the threat of sharks being in the area…

At the beginning I wasn’t super confident, but with Mick giving the lesson, you cannot say no to that! It was a once in a lifetime experience. He’s also very good at, let’s say, managing sharks, so I thought I was safe if he is close to me! We have other cool activities planned for the rest of season. Sometimes it might sound extreme, but it’s Red Bull’s philosophy. I like trying activities that give you a lot of adrenaline.

How supportive have Aston Martin Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Motorsport Advisor Helmut Marko been since you’ve joined the team?

They have been really good in helping me and telling me more about the team, how everybody works, giving me tips on creating relationships with engineers and the new guys I work with. During the weekend, they are really involved in our performance and understanding how we feel. During the week, we also have a call with each other, reviewing the weekend and looking at what could have been better, what was good and what we have to work on for the next races. They have been great. I also know them better now. Before I joined the team, it was a different relationship with them as a young driver, but now, driving for the senior team has developed our relationship and I’m happy with how things are going.

What has the support been like back in France since you’ve been promoted to one of Formula One’s biggest teams?

I’ve seen a change stepping up to Aston Martin Red Bull Racing. There’s definitely more interest. It’s not something I pay massive attention to, I wouldn’t say my life has changed from this, but I really appreciate the support I’m getting. In the future, I hope I will be able to deliver the win all French people are waiting for since a very long time.

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