‘Gasly undone by crashes, Albon better than Kyvat’

Red Bull chose Alexander Albon to replace Pierre Gasly because Helmut Marko feels he is “better” than Daniil Kvyat while explaining that Gasly was undone by his testing crashes.

Last week Red Bull announced that Gasly, under-fire for a lack of results, would be heading back to Toro Rosso with immediate effect.

His place at Red Bull would go to rookie racer Albon for the final nine races, giving the team the opportunity to evaluate the driver before deciding on Max Verstappen’s 2020 team-mate.

Red Bull advisor Marko played a role in making the decision and recently explained it to Japanese publication, Autosport Web.

The Austrian reckons Red Bull did not see the best of Gasly this season as the Frenchman was unable to shrug off his pre-season crashes.

Gasly twice crashed the RB15 during the Barcelona tests, not only putting Red Bull on the back foot but he was also publicly blamed for the crashes by Marko.

“Not just once, but twice,” Marko told as-web.

“Yes, his crashes had a great effect on the team’s test programs. We were short on parts, and faced issues completing our tests.”

Asked if Gasly felt responsible, Marko said: “That’s definitely true. And even after the season began he was not able to erase it.”

He added: “Pierre until this year was fast, and there was no hesitation in overtaking during the race.

“However, the original speed has not come out at all this year.”

As for the team’s decision to put Albon in the car, Marko says he has been impressed by the Thai-British driver’s performances in his debut campaign.

“I am optimistic,” he said.

“To be honest it was unexpected that he showed such a good performance in his first year.

“Moreover, he has made steady progress from race to race.

“Alex’s contract only covers the remaining nine races of this year.

“No one has yet decided who will be Max’s team-mate next year so Alex should be able to grow and race without feeling any extra pressure.”

The decision to put Albon in the car instead of Daniil Kvyat came as a surprise to many especially as the latter is the one who stood on the podium at this year’s German GP.

Marko explained: “I think Albon is better.

“We know how fast Kvyat is, we can say that he has become a more complete driver. However, based on all factors, we chose Alex.”

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‘Red Bull offered Gasly seat to Alonso at Silverstone’

Red Bull approached Fernando Alonso around the time of the British Grand Prix, offering him Pierre Gasly’s race-seat only to receiving a “resounding ‘no’”.

Alonso walked away from Formula 1 at the end of last year but continues to make headlines as reports link to him a possible return in 2020.

It, however, could have been earlier had he accepted a Red Bull race-seat midway through this season.

Although Red Bull were publicly proclaiming that the team would stick with Gasly through to the end of this campaign, behind the scenes they were already shopping around at July’s British Grand Prix.

According to Mundo Deportivo, the Milton Keynes squad offered Gasly’s seat to Alonso only for the double World Champion to decline the offer.

“And it is not Fernando who approached Red Bull,” claims the report, “but it was the team led by Christian Horner who was interested in the driver.”

The answer though, was a “resounding ‘no’.”

When Alonso left F1 last year, he made his feelings on today’s sport well-known, saying he is unimpressed and uninterested in the lack of competition.

This is not the first time that Alonso has been linked to Red Bull with tech guru Adrian Newey revealing they were “very close” to signing him back in 2007.

“It’s one of those things that unfortunately never happened,” he told Esquire Magazine. “But it was very close.”

There were also talks in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 while last year Alonso stated that Red Bull also approached him in “Monaco and again in August” regarding a 2019 drive.

Red Bull denied the latter approaches while it remains to be seen whether this latest one will come with a rebuttal.

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Honda engine/penalty strategy is ‘very complicated’

Honda admit is is “very complicated” deciding when to introduce a new Spec 4 engine as it means penalties for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

Honda have already introduced two engine updates this season, the Spec 2 and Spec 3.

The latter has been in action since the French GP but already the Japanese manufacturer has another upgraded ready to go.

The question is when do the Red Bull and Toro Rosso drivers take it.

“We are discussing all the time with the teams and we will decide when we apply a new engine or updated spec,” Honda’s F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe told Motorsport.com.

“At the moment no decision has been made yet.

“It depends on the situation and timing and the result of the discussions with the teams.

“It’s very complicated.”

While Formula 1 returns from the summer break with Spa and Monza back-to-back, both high-speed high-power circuits, Singapore is likely to be the next race on the calendar have a really good chance of winning.

Then there is the Japanese Grand Prix, Honda’s home race and one in which they would love to excel.

Singapore will almost certainly be prioritised given it represents a significant opportunity for Red Bull to take another win this season, but Honda’s home race in Japan is only the fifth race after the summer break.

With Motorsport.com reporting that Honda believe their power unit can last six races without issues or losing performance, it is a case of balancing long-term goals with short-term ones.

Tanabe added: “We have two types of plan, long-term and short-term.

“After the race we review the situation, the condition of the PU, maybe two or three races is the short-term. And the long-term means until the end of the season.

“It is very complicated.”

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‘Honda were still hurting from the McLaren years’

Max Verstappen believes Honda were still hurting from the McLaren years leading to a “cautious” beginning to the Red Bull relationship in 2019.

Honda returned to Formula 1 with McLaren in 2015 and, after three unsuccessful years, parted ways.

During that time McLaren and Fernando Alonso blamed Honda for their disappointing results, the Spaniard going as far as to call the Honda power unit a “GP2 engine” during the Japanese manufacturer’s home race.

The end of the McLaren relationship saw Honda initially take on Toro Rosso before Red Bull joined the party this season.

That has already resulted in five podium finishes for Verstappen, including two race wins, as well as a P3 for Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.

With three of his top-three results coming in the last three races, Verstappen explained the upturn in form to Autosport: “I think the engine we started to take more out of it, because I felt like Honda didn’t want to break down.

“You can see we are pushing a bit harder, but it’s still fine.

“But after all the negative stuff they had at McLaren with all the engines blowing up and other things, they were a bit careful, and I think that is the right approach.”

The improvements, though, haven’t only come from Honda.

“Obviously we had our own little issues at the beginning of the year with the car not being exactly what we wanted it to be for some reason,” Verstappen said.

“We kept working hard, the factory also kept pushing very hard with new parts for the car very quickly, reacting.

“Of course Adrian [Newey] being on top of it, and I think very quickly we sorted out a car which was again really nice to drive.

“From Austria onwards, when we brought a few new bits, that seemed to be a turnaround for us, where we could finally really start pushing the car.”

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“It’s like Red Bull is actually trying to kill their junior driver programme by making sure everybody knows they treat their drivers like shit. They already had a reputation after Kvyat, which is partially why they had to bring back Kvyat in the end – promising young drivers were less willing to join Red Bull’s junior driver programme. They are running out of talent and this demotion of Gasly won’t help.”

– Anonymous submission

Marko: Gasly does not like to overtake

Pierre Gasly “does not like to overtake” and that’s why Red Bull opted to drop him in favour of testing Alexander Albon, so says Helmut Marko.

Gasly was promoted to Red Bull in the off-season, replacing the Renault-bound Daniel Ricciardo.

At the time Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said Gasly’s step up was sooner than they had wanted for the Frenchman but that Red Bull would give him time to find his feet.

However, after 12 races, in which he only once beat his team-mate Max Verstappen, Red Bull’s patience wore out.

The team announced on Monday that Gasly would be heading back to Toro Rosso with his Red Bull seat going to Albon with immediate effect.

Explaining the decision, Marko told Auto Bild: “Gasly has problems in traffic because he loses places and he does not like to overtake, so we had to react and give Albon a chance before the season ends.

“Gasly takes over his Toro Rosso and then we see who drives alongside Max next year.”

With the Gasly situation resolved, Marko is hoping for a strong finish to this season for Red Bull.

Although Red Bull remain third in the standings, the RB15 has been the second best – if not the best – car out on track in recent races.

Having bagged just two podiums in the first eight races, Verstappen has three in the last four including two race wins.

Marko explained: “We built a car with too little downforce, we just underestimated how much progress our new engine partner Honda made, and they delivered more power than we thought.

“That’s why we originally wanted to compensate for the missing horsepower with a chassis that is very aerodynamically efficient.

“But we corrected that and at the last races we were almost on par with Mercedes. We have definitely overtaken Ferrari.

“I think we will be competitive on every kind of racetrack in the second half of the season.”

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