Pierre Gasly says he is "more complete" as a Formula 1 driver than he was during his Red Bull stint, and feels ready to return to the sharp end of Grand Prix racing.
Gasly was given his F1 debut at Red Bull's sister team Toro Rosso in 2017, and was handed a full-time race drive in 2018.
In 2019 he was promoted to the main squad to partner Max Verstappen after Daniel Ricciardo's shock defection to Renault.
Gasly struggled to match Verstappen and integrate himself into the team, and also crashed heavily in pre-season testing – limiting Red Bull's running.
After the Hungarian Grand Prix, Gasly was demoted back to Toro Rosso, swapping with Alex Albon.
Since being dropped, Gasly has carved himself out into a fine midfield runner, often banking strong points for what is now AlphaTauri.
The Frenchman believes he would now be in a position to cope better with the pressures demanded at top F1 teams.
Gasly "decidedly more complete" as an F1 driver
By Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner's own admission, Gasly was promoted a year too soon to the main team, although a dearth of options meant he was the only viable candidate for the seat.
Since his demotion, Gasly has secured a Grand Prix win – in Italy 2020 – as well as two other podiums and a host of big points hauls for AlphaTauri. He is also the senior driver in the team, with teammate Yuki Tsuonda only in his second season in F1.
And speaking with the Italian version of Motorsport.com, Gasly reckons he has developed into a driver more assured in what he needs from the car – one of the big downfalls of his short Red Bull stay.
"Red Bull gave me a great opportunity [with promotion to the senior team], because they saw my potential," he explained.
"If I think about it now, after five years in Formula 1, I am a decidedly more complete driver. I have a lot more experience and am more efficient at working with the team.
"I know exactly what I want from the car and my feedback is much clearer. I am much more complete.
"I think I have shown with a mid-ranking car I was able to grow and achieve good results, but with all the respect I have for AlphaTauri, there will always be a gap with the top teams.
"We can reach the podium, even a victory is not impossible, but there is a one per cent chance."
Viewed by others:
Marko clear about Gasly's future
Helmut Marko is the head of Red Bull's junior programme, and as such decides who races where in any given season.
Gasly's hopes of returning to the senior Red Bull team were dashed when Sergio Perez signed a fresh contract to stay in Milton Keynes.
The other big teams, Mercedes and Ferrari, both have their driver line-ups secure, meaning Gasly's options were limited.
After the Canadian Grand Prix, AlphaTauri announced that Gasly would be staying with the team for 2023, his fifth full season with the Faenza-based squad.
He revealed that Marko had been in talks with him about his future within the Red Bull family.
"There have been so many rumours around my name because Red Bull had not yet clearly announced what was planned with me," he said.
"Because of these rumours, I also talked about it with Helmut, and because the contracts are in force, we always see each other every year to talk about the future.
"He was very clear in telling me that they wanted to keep me at AlphaTauri.
"[After Perez was re-signed], they wanted me to stay where I am, and we will carry on until my contract expires.
"Next year will be my 10th as a Red Bull [backed] driver. After? We will see what happens."
F1 Podcast: Steiner exclusive on 2022, Schumacher and officialdom
RacingNews365.com F1 journalists Dieter Rencken and Michael Butterworth are joined by Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steiner to discuss the inner workings of his team, regulation changes in the sport and driver switches.