Red Bull newcomer Pierre Gasly will have his work cut out against teammate Max Verstappen. When Daniel Ricciardo dropped the bombshell that he was joining Renault in 2019, it was panic stations for Red Bull. Gasly got the unexpected promotion as the Austrian team scrambled to fill the void left by Ricciardo.
Gasly is heading into his second season in Formula One, racing for one of the Big 3 teams. In a way, it could be seen as mirroring Verstappen’s own move to Red Bull after one full season. However, some feel that Gasly will struggle as the team will focus on Verstappen, trying to fuel his championship ambitions.
One of those observers is 1997 F1 world champion and full-time F1 critic Jacques Villeneuve. Speaking to La Presse, Villeneuve said, “For Gasly, the only goal is to compare himself to Max Verstappen.”
“That will be difficult because Red Bull is ‘Team Verstappen’, but he has his chance and it’s up to him to stand out at this level.”
Interestingly, Villeneuve is aware that Red Bull’s 2019 performance will be one of the biggest unanswered questions until the season kicks off in Australia.
“There could be a surprise, but it’s been four years that people expect surprises from Honda,” he mused.
Another former driver who shared Villeneuve’s concerns about Honda’s pace is 1998 and ’99 champion, Mika Hakkinen.
Speaking to AS newspaper, the Finn said, “Looking at the results of the tests and what Renault have done with the performance of their engine, I think they are in very good shape.”
“I wonder if Red Bull made the right decision. It will be very interesting to find out.”
Whatever the case, all questions will be answered once the five red lights go out and the race gets underway. Will Ferrari keep up their testing pace? Are Mercedes‘ struggles in testing just them sandbagging? Will Red Bull have a say in the championship? Is there a dark horse looming? All these questions will be answered very soon.