Pierre Gasly exclaimed after finishing second in today’s Brazilian Grand Prix that his first ever podium in Formula 1 highlighted “the best day of my life”.
An impressive qualifying performance combined with Charles Leclerc’s grid penalty saw Gasly start sixth. He was comfortably running best of the rest in seventh late in the race before Valtteri Bottas retired and the two Ferraris collided. That promoted him to fourth, which became a somewhat lucky second when Lewis Hamilton spun Alex Albon.
The young Frenchman admits such a result seemed far away when he was demoted from Red Bull to Toro Rosso over the summer break.
“It’s just the best day of my life,” Gasly said. “As a kid you dream about being in Formula 1, and then when it happens it becomes the best day of your life. After, you dream about your first podium.
“To be fair, I didn’t think this would happen, coming back with Toro Rosso during the second part of the season. I just kept working on myself, trying to push the team as much as I could, telling them, ‘OK, we need to make the best out of all the opportunities we have until the end of the year.’ And today it just came to us.
“We had a really strong race before that in P7, behind the top teams, and then they started to battle. First (Valtteri retired), then the Ferraris, and then I was like, ‘OK, this looks quite similar to Bahrain 2018 — I’m in P4’. After that, I knew Lewis would try something … I just managed to get past the two (Hamilton and Albon), and it was quite an intense finish — just incredible to get my first podium in Formula 1.”
After beating Hamilton to the line in a drag race out of the final corner by less than a car length, Gasly says the podium experience is one he has missed since graduating to F1.
“It’s crazy. These guys (Verstappen and Hamilton) are used to it. You get used to being on the podium in the lower series; then after coming into Formula 1, it’s a feeling you miss. I was really missing it. My last podium was in Formula 2 when I was champion in 2016. It’s something you want to experience again — especially in Formula 1. Today, to be in the middle, in second place between Max and Lewis, my first podium in F1 is just… yeah, just insane, and amazing and really emotional for me.”