Pierre Gasly may not have earned any points in his Formula 1 debut, but the young Frenchman certainly impressed those that matter.
The 21-year-old replaced Daniil Kvyat in Toro Rosso’s second car for the final ever Malaysian Grand Prix, knowing a spot in the team’s lineup for next season is there to be won.
Gasly has tested for Red Bull this season so wasn’t a complete rookie when it comes to the 2017 cars but it was still a high pressure weekend for the current GP2 champion.
Kvyat’s replacement went well in practice but all eyes were on him to see how he would perform in qualifying.
Gasly made it through to Q2 and ended up 15th on the grid, just over a tenth slower than team-mate Carlos Sainz.
Unfortunately for Toro Rosso, their race pace wasn’t quite up to scratch and neither Gasly nor Sainz came close to picking up points.
Sainz retired on lap 29 with suspected engine problems but his new team-mate soldiered on and ended up finishing 14th.
It was a very clean drive from Gasly – a welcome change for Toro Rosso, no doubt, from the action-packed but unpredictable Kvyat.
There’s not much more one could have expected or asked from Gasly in his Formula 1 debut in a car that just wasn’t competitive on the day.
— Pierre Gasly ?? (@PierreGASLY) October 1, 2017
The Frenchman also had some physical obstacles to overcome. He revealed that he suffered back pain during the race due to an uncomfortable seating position and that his water bottle didn’t work for most of the afternoon. Not ideal in one of the hottest races on the calendar!
Gasly looks to have done his chances of a full time Toro Rosso drive in 2018 no harm at all as team principal Franz Tost was impressed with the youngsters tour of the circuit.
“Pierre did a fantastic job again today – this was his first weekend with the team and he performed very well.
I’m looking forward to seeing him race again in Suzuka because it’s a race track he knows from the Japanese Super Formula championship.” – Franz Tost
Gasly, who has been competing in the Japanese Super Formula this season, joined the Red Bull driver programme in 2014 and looks to be the next promising young racer off the production line.
— Formula 1 (@F1) September 30, 2017
The way he dealt with one of the most gruelling tracks on the calendar bodes well for the future and Gasly himself was just glad he got the car home without any major drama.
“I was thinking that I was happy to be here, that the things I’ve done in the past few years were useful and worked out pretty well and to do my job and to do the thing I know best.
I have the skills to drive, so it was time to do it.
Definitely it was something special and in a way you have so many emotions.
Things between the car are so busy that I was thinking about all the procedures, trying not to f**k up with all the switches!” – Pierre Gasly
With Kvyat looking set to return for the United States GP in three weeks’ time, Gasly has another chance to impress in Suzuka this weekend.
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRossoSpy) September 28, 2017
A track he knows well, Gasly and Toro Rosso will be expecting to be a bit more competitive as the team looks to try and challenge Williams for fifth place in the constructor standings.
Regardless of what happens next week, they say that first impressions are vitally important, and fortunately for Pierre Gasly, he made a very good one.