Pierre Gasly says the time was right to leave the Red Bull set-up and join Alpine because he believes he should be fighting with the likes of Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, and George Russell at the front of the grid.
Alpine has signed Gasly to replace Aston Martin-bound Fernando Alonso next season, despite the Frenchman having had a year still to run on his AlphaTauri contract. Having been part of the Red Bull program in Formula 1 for the past five years, Gasly says the sight of drivers he used to compete against moving into top teams led him to make the call to join Alpine.
“I felt it was needed because I’ve been with the team at AlphaTauri for quite a few years and I’ve contributed as much as I could to the success of this team over the last couple of years, really giving everything that I could,” Gasly told RACER. “But ultimately I also want to be fighting at the front.
“I see the guys that I’ve fought in my career fighting at the front of the grid – Max getting championships, Charles fighting for championships, George being there, Lando (Norris) also getting his chances – and I do see myself there.
“That’s where I want to fight and where I want to be fighting weekend after weekend. I think Alpine will be a great step and based on their development I know they have what it takes to match my expectations and my ambitions.”
Despite the fresh start that awaits him, Gasly admits the bond he has with his AlphaTauri team will make the final two races of the season particularly poignant.
“Honestly, you get both feelings and emotions. I’m really excited for the future, I see it as a big opportunity working with a manufacturer in Alpine and looking at the steps they are making over the last few years, definitely confident there are big things to achieve with this team and I’m very excited about it.
“On the other hand, this place is like a family. I’ve always felt at home in AlphaTauri, very close to the team in Faenza. It’s a smaller team, every single mechanic, every single engineer become friends, so I sort of grew up with them in my F1 career so far.
“So obviously emotional to leave but it’s also how a career goes and based on the ambitions and what I want to achieve in F1 I know it’s also the right time to make a move and take another direction. But these last races, it hasn’t hit me yet, but Abu Dhabi is going to be emotionally very special.”