"We have built really strong links with the mechanics and the engineers", Pierre Gasly, 22, who will be living this Sunday at the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi, his last race with Toro Rosso, stable that he compares to "first love", before joining Red Bull in 2019.
What inspires you on the Yas Marina circuit?
"It's a track that I like and that reminds me of great memories. It is here that I was titled in GP2, two years ago. I like the atmosphere. In addition, generally, one goes there at the end of the year, it is 30 degrees, while in Europe, it is cold with rain or snow. And it's true that I prefer these conditions. On the route itself, I really like the last sector, all the winding part where there is a lot of rhythm. We are constantly curbing, turning, and accelerating. We really feel in the car that we can make a difference.
You have to feel a special feeling since it's your last with Toro Rosso?
It's special because it's the team that gave me my first chance in Formula 1. It's like a first love. Since last year, we have built really strong links with mechanics and engineers. When I work with people, I make sure that it goes well. And it's certainly a bit emotional to leave them. After, the sport also makes that our life is a little like that. In the lower categories, from one year to the next, we are constantly changing. But obviously it's going to be special and I hope we can finish with a good result to say goodbye with big smiles.
Your future Red Bull will be equipped with a Honda engine and more of a Renault in 2019, does that worry you?
No. Already, next year, cars will be different. The new front wing will change a lot in terms of aero. There may be a stable that will find something and take advantage. Moreover, I think that this year Red Bull would have been able to have the same level of competitiveness with the Honda engine. With the Renault engine, they lacked the special mode that Mercedes and Ferrari can have on a lap in qualifying but in the race they were really there. At the global level, I think they are the most complete. After that, there is always the question of reliability. In 2018, at Toro Rosso, we used eight engines (Honda), it's better than the previous seasons, especially since we also tested to prepare the next season. With the experience and knowledge brought by Red Bull associated with Honda's strength, I think it will accelerate development even faster.
You will integrate a "Top Team" after only 26 races, can we talk about a quick climb?
That's true: it's more or less the same as Max (Verstappen) or (Sebastian) Vettel who spent about a year and a half in F1 before being promoted to Red Bull. At the beginning of the year, I did not expect that to happen at all, but in a career, there are times when you have to be in the right place at the right time. For me, this was not the case after my GP2 title where I could not have an F1 seat directly with Toro Rosso, but in the end the luck turned out well. Then I did the right thing because I was not the only candidate to go to Red Bull. I'm happy to have shown them enough things for me to choose.