A driver market move that seemed totally unlikely less than two months ago was confirmed this Saturday in Japan: Pierre Gasly was released by AlphaTauri to fill the vacancy opened by Fernando Alonso at Alpine, and Dutchman Nyck De Vries will occupy the vacancy of the driver. French pilot. With that, there are now only two spots open on the Formula 1 grid next season.
Gasly will team up with Esteban Ocon at Alpine, in an all-French team. It’s a risky gamble in a way, as the two started running on the same track as children, were very close, but broke off their friendship in their teens. And they became disaffected. Although the two have lately shown that the problems are behind them, it will be interesting to see what the dynamic is between the Frenchmen working on the same team, which currently has the fourth best car on the grid, behind only Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes. “It’s an opportunity for us to get back to the relationship we had in the past,” said Gasly.
Ocon also tried to put the disagreements aside and posted a photo of the two together saying that they were “two children from Normadia with an impossible dream” and welcomed the compatriot.
The deal is great for Gasly, who has finally managed to free himself from Red Bull’s clutches. Very smiling in recent weeks, he seems to know this very well. Ever since he lost his starting spot at Red Bull, judged uncompromising by consultant Helmut Marko, the Frenchman knew he wouldn’t have a chance with the first team. The winner of the 2020 Italian GP with AlphaTauri had a contract with the team until the end of next year, but was released upon payment of a fine by Alpine. The French ended up without their two options after Fernando Alonso decided to sign with Aston Martin because the team only talked about Oscar Piastri, and Oscar Piastri decided to sign with McLaren because they only talked about Fernando Alonso.
De Vries turns career around with F1 starting spot
And AlphaTauri will count on the 27-year-old Dutchman, who for a long time was on the sidelines of Formula 1, despite being F2 champion, largely due to his reputation as a difficult person. But his stint at Mercedes as a test and reserve driver helped change that perception, and made him an interesting signing for rivals at the German team, which had already announced in mid-year that it would release him to negotiate with other teams.
With the hiring, De Vries becomes a rare case of a driver who was successful in youth categories and didn’t get a seat right away, went to race in other categories (he was even champion of Formula E), and only then debuted in F1. The performance in his first race, as a replacement for Alex Albon, with appendicitis, in the Italian GP, was decisive in generating the interest of Helmut Marko. The two met shortly after the race in Austria and closed the deal within days. Now, the Dutchman will do his first full season alongside Yuki Tsunoda, who will be in his third, although he is only 22 years old.
With the expected confirmation of these two signings, there are only two spots left on the Formula 1 grid next year. One at Williams alongside Alex Albon, and one at Haas alongside Kevin Magnussen.