‘It’s just the best day of my life’

Pretoria News - - SPORT -

FRENCH driver Pierre Gasly stood on the For­mula One podium for the first time in his ca­reer on Sun­day and said it felt sim­ply in­sane.

Dropped by Red Bull in Au­gust af­ter un­der-per­form­ing as Max Ver­stap­pen’s team­mate, he stood along­side the 22-year-old win­ning Dutch­man as Brazil­ian Grand Prix run­ner-up for Honda-pow­ered Toro Rosso.

That was the best re­sult for the Italy-based Red Bull ju­nior team since Se­bas­tian Vet­tel, now a four-times world cham­pion, took the first race win of his ca­reer with them at a wet Monza in 2008.

“It’s just the best day of my life. As a kid you dream about be­ing in For­mula One, and then when it hap­pens it be­comes the best day of your life and then af­ter you dream about your first podium,” said Gasly.

“To be fair, I didn’t think this would hap­pen, com­ing back with Toro Rosso dur­ing the sec­ond part of the sea­son.

“My first podium in F1 is just... just in­sane, amaz­ing and re­ally emo­tional for me.”

The 23-year-old’s best pre­vi­ous re­sult was fourth – in Bahrain with Toro Rosso last year and in Bri­tain with Red Bull in July. Pro­moted from Toro Rosso to the se­nior team af­ter Aus­tralian Daniel Ric­cia­rdo stunned Red Bull by join­ing Re­nault, Gasly lasted just 12 races be­fore hav­ing to switch places with Thai rookie Alexan­der Al­bon.

Al­bon has now been con­firmed for 2020 at Red Bull, with Gasly stay­ing at Toro Rosso.

Gasly let out a lung-bust­ing scream as he took the che­quered flag, a mere 0.1 of a sec­ond ahead of the Mercedes of six-times world cham­pion Lewis Hamil­ton and he strug­gled to fo­cus on the podium.

“You just have like thou­sands of thoughts go­ing through your mind,” he said.

“I thought about An­thoine (Hu­bert, the late French F2 driver) who passed away ear­lier this sea­son, one of my best bud­dies who would have dreamed to be up there. I thought about all the peo­ple who sup­ported me.

“I have never imag­ined this would hap­pen. In Brazil, in a Toro Rosso, sec­ond place and fight­ing Lewis on the line is just in­cred­i­ble.”

Hamil­ton was later pe­nalised five sec­onds for a penul­ti­mate-lap col­li­sion with Al­bon that de­nied Red Bull a onetwo and al­lowed Gasly to get ahead of the Bri­ton.

Team boss Franz Tost said Gasly had fit­ted back in straight away af­ter his re­turn from Red Bull, as if he had never been away.

“He drove a very close race. He saved the tyres... how he drove to­day was re­ally first class,” said the Aus­trian.

“It seems the Ital­ian air is better for him than the English,” he joked. “The food is of course better.” |

PIERRE GASLY cel­e­brates on the podium af­ter the Brazil­ian Grand Prix at In­ter­la­gos on Sun­day. |

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