Pierre Gasly, the old antagonist of Carlos Sainz who pays tribute to Zidane

Pierre Gasly, the old antagonist of Carlos Sainz who pays tribute to Zidane

The winner at Monza, in a tough fight with the Spaniard since 2014, wears 10 on his Alpha Tauri in honor of the Real Madrid coach.

Pierre Gasly, the old antagonist of Carlos Sainz who pays tribute to Zidane

Just 13 months ago, Pierre Gasly's star seemed to decline definitively in Formula 1. After scoring only 63 points in the first 12 races of the World Championship, the French driver was fired from Red Bull and relegated to its Toro Rosso subsidiary. The public criticism of Christian Horner and Helmut Marko , in the eternal search for a squire for Max Verstappen , led to the rise of Alexander Albon .

Yesterday, Gasly crossed the finish line of the Italian GP in first position, while the Thai finished penultimate. So she couldn't find a way to translate her inconceivable joy into a logical speech: “So much has happened to me in the last 18 months. I have no words.

The echoes of La Marseillaise reverberated heroically yesterday from the podium in Monza. It was the first time they sounded since Fernando Alonso's victory in the 2008 Japanese GP, at the wheel of a Renault. And even further back you have to go back for the last triumph of a French driver. It was Olivier Panis in the rugged Monaco GP of 1996. In the last decade only Romain Grosjean had touched the feat, with two second places in the 2012 Canadian GP and the 2013 US GP.

“I can't thank you enough”

However, unlike the wild Haas veteran, Gasly is distinguished by his mental toughness behind the wheel. “I can't thank everyone enough from Alpha Tauri to Honda. It is difficult for me to realize what we have achieved, “declared this fervent admirer of Zinedine Zidane yesterday, in honor of the person who wears the number 10 on his car.

His pulse with Sainz brought to mind yesterday the battles of 2014, with both at the controls of a Red Bull in Formula Renault 3.5. An intense stage of training in tough competition also with Roberto Merhi . That season, Sainz claimed the title at the Jerez Circuit. Since then, Gasly's figure has crossed his path too many times.

Curiously, the most crucial moment came on November 17 at Interlagos, when Pierre finished second in another race almost as crazy as yesterday. It was the first podium for both. As a rematch, the Madrid-born clinched sixth place in the championship with just one point margin over his persevering opponent.

Challenging Alonso

The euphoria at Monza broke out in the form of tears and hugs for the winner, who had started tenth on the grid and had maintained his poise in the last 10 laps of pure vertigo. In Alpha Tauri even the person in charge of the Covid-19 tests left his soul in the celebrations and jumps. Everyone in there wanted to pay tribute to that boy in whom they had placed a blind trust after his GP2 title in 2016.

Since his debut a year later with Toro Rosso, Gasly had established himself as a future asset for the Faenza team. There they still remember his fourth place in the Bahrain GP in 2018, when he remedied Alonso with that ironic message on the radio: “We can fight, we can fight.” Last year, despite the painful disappointment at Red Bull, he knew how to navigate against the current. Unlike Daniil Kvyat, he was not going to allow himself the luxury of despondency. He remained in the gap, with 32 points in nine races. And in Monza he made the bank jump yesterday.

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