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Pierre Gasly

Red Bull admit Gasly is 'ready' for a promotion again

Red Bull's Jonathan Wheatley has explained how the team have learned to be more understanding of junior drivers, and admitted that Pierre Gasly is ready to return to the front of the F1 field.

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Red Bull Sporting Director Jonathan Wheatley says the team have learned lessons in the last few years, after seeing a number of junior drivers struggle to find immediate pace and form with the senior squad.

Red Bull currently have Sergio Perez as Max Verstappen's teammate, hiring the veteran from the open market after years of unsuccessfully promoting juniors from the Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri outfit.

However, Red Bull have shown increased patience in recent times. Alex Albon was given a role as Red Bull development driver in 2021 and landed a Williams race seat with the team's help, while Pierre Gasly has become a leading light in the midfield with AlphaTauri since his demotion in 2019.

Wheatley, speaking on the Jack Threlfall Show, explained that Red Bull have learned a lot from the likes of Albon and Gasly in terms of how to support a driver who is struggling for confidence.

"We learned a huge amount of things from Alex; we learned how to help support a younger driver who's having a difficult time," he said.

"[It was the] same with Pierre before that. Look at the confidence Pierre has got again, now he's back in a slightly smaller team!

"I think, honestly, Pierre is ready to make the next step up now."

How Verstappen made life difficult for the Red Bull juniors

Red Bull dropping promising young drivers entirely was once par for the course, with former juniors Sebastien Buemi, Jean-Eric Vergne and Carlos Sainz all going on to establish successful careers after being released from the Red Bull stable.

As a result, lessons appear to have been learned. After a very tough 2021 season, Yuki Tsunoda has been kept on for 2022 at AlphaTauri, while Gasly and Albon remain under the Red Bull umbrella.

Wheatley admitted that young drivers like Albon and Gasly, promoted quickly to the main team, had the misfortune of going up against the formidable Max Verstappen – a daunting prospect for the most seasoned of drivers.

"Alex is an extraordinary young man," Wheatley explained.

"[A] fantastic driver, a seriously, seriously fast driver. But, a bit like Pierre, [it's] very difficult to come into a team with Max Verstappen as your teammate.

"It's been a bit of a gulf really coming from AlphaTauri or Toro Rosso in the past, into a race team with somebody the likes of Max in it.

"Max had to do with Daniel [Ricciardo], but we can see now that Max is another extraordinary talent. But Alex and his dedication and the fact that he never once let his emotions overcome him... I think it just shows a resilience in the guy."

For now, Red Bull appear to have given up on trying to fast-track a junior driver alongside Verstappen, and are content to allow Perez show his experience as the team target their first Constructors' Championship since 2013.

"You want to win the Constructors' Championship, not just the Drivers' World Championship," Wheatley said.

"You need both drivers there. I think that what Checo brings with him and brings to the team is this body of experience. It does make us stronger."

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