Pierre Gasly isn't worried about becoming trapped at AlphaTauri, as he prepares for a third successive full season with the team.
Having entered F1 in late 2017 as GP2 champion, Gasly has almost always driven for the Faenza-based team – called Toro Rosso at the time he joined.
He was promoted to Red Bull for 2019 after a successful first full season in '18. However, struggling for any sort of form alongside Max Verstappen, Gasly was demoted back to Toro Rosso, where he quickly regrouped.
He became a race winner with the rebranded AlphaTauri in 2020, and achieved his best-ever season result in 2021 as he climbed to ninth in the Drivers' Championship with 110 points.
Revealing since that he still believes there are areas he can improve in, Gasly was asked whether he feels he will be trapped at AlphaTauri as the door back to Red Bull appears to be shut, while Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes all have long-term deals in place as well as having their own drivers on their rosters.
"No, because the market will change," Gasly told German publication Auto Motor und Sport.
"For many drivers, contracts will expire in 2023. There will be opportunities. Everything happens very quickly in Formula 1. I am not too worried. There are opportunities, I know that. We'll see when it's the right time.
"At the moment I am concentrating on every race weekend, on my performance. I give my best. The best I can do is repeat results like I did in Mexico – to finish fifth in qualifying, behind Mercedes and Red Bull in a midfield car.
"I would certainly do better with a faster car. That's the only thing that matters."
"Red Bull will always be in front of AlphaTauri"
Gasly believes that the best he can realistically aim for is to bring AlphaTauri to a level where the two Red Bull teams are the dominant force in F1.
The French driver said the 2022 rules reset and budget cap may help with closing the gaps between the teams, but doesn't foresee a situation in which the senior Red Bull outfit could end up behind AlphaTauri.
"In a perfect world, the best we can do is finish second. Red Bull will always be ahead of us," he commented.
"But only if everyone messes up with the new car. It happens in my wildest dreams, but it's not realistic.
"We see it as an opportunity. Everyone starts with a blank sheet of paper. In doing so, you can find something that others have not yet done. That can potentially make all the difference.
"On the other hand, you can also go in the wrong direction with the design. That would be a nasty surprise. I'm preparing for all possible scenarios.
"Maybe things will go better than this season and we are where McLaren is right now. Maybe we'll stay where we are. But maybe we're fighting to get into the top 10 at all, or even worse. You have to be realistic.
"Next year could be tough. We come from a year in which we were regularly in the top six or top 10. You have to keep in mind that things could go worse. But we want to think positively."
But whatever the competitiveness of the machinery he's given, Gasly knows his immediate future has been assured by Red Bull.
"The contract runs until 2023," he confirmed, when asked for an update on the situation.
"At the moment the plan is for a cockpit in 2024. We'll see. As I said, the situation in Formula 1 is changing rapidly. I don't know what Red Bull are going to do with me, whether they want to continue or release me beforehand. We'll talk about that later."
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