Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has challenged Pierre Gasly’s suggestion that he was “surprised” that he was not considered for a promotion to the Formula 1 team in 2021.
Horner says it has been “made clear” to the Frenchman why he wasn’t in contention for a seat, should Red Bull decide to replace Alex Albon.
Gasly was recently confirmed at AlphaTauri for 2021, having won the Italian GP and comfortably outperformed teammate Daniil Kvyat this season.
Until recently many observers thought that should Red Bull decide to drop Albon for 2021, Gasly had done enough to justify a return to the team that he drove for in the first half of last year.
However even before Gasly was confirmed at AlphaTauri, the Red Bull management had made it clear that it will look outside its pool of youngsters at available experienced drivers like Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez.
On Friday, Gasly explained his feelings on being passed over for promotion.
“I’m not disappointed, I will say I’m just surprised,” he said. “In 14 years, Seb [Vettel] won a race with Toro Rosso, I’m the only other driver who won a race. Seb got promoted to Red Bull and won four titles with the team. So I’m just surprised I was not really considered.”
Asked if he knew of a specific reason from his past, he said: “I don’t know.”
When challenged on Gasly’s assertion that he was surprised, Horner insisted that the French driver knew what the thinking was in the camp.
“I think it’s been made very clear to him,” said Horner. “I mean, he’s a key part of the AlphaTauri team. AlphaTauri’s got different aspirations than that of Toro Rosso. It’s not just purely a junior team, it’s a sister team, as I’ve previously stated.
“And I think that we’re very pleased for Pierre, that he’s doing a great job in that environment, he’s happy in that environment. The team are very happy with him. So, why break that up? I think that you know that’s been made clear to him.
“He’s on a long-term contract with Red Bull for the next several years, so you know we have all the information that we need on Pierre, and as I said, I think he’s been made very aware throughout the discussions that his future has always laid with AlphaTauri, simply because of the evolving nature of that team and the aspirations of that team.”
Horner reiterated that Albon remains “Plan A” for 2021, but he has to justify his place.
“We’re fully focused on Plan A, and making sure that Plan A happens,” Horner said. “So at the moment, I think we’ll just put our attention into that. And if Plan B was needed, I’m sure you guys would be the first to know.
“It’s Alex’s seat. He’s got his bum in the car, and everybody wants to see him retain that seat. I think he’s just got to lock out the outside noise, get his head down, have a good weekend.”
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