“I promise you: in this platform, I will tell you the truth.” It is with these words that Pierre Gasly, who has an appointment next weekend in Bahrain for the resumption of the Formula 1 championship at the wheel of his AlphaTauri, begins his long and moving letter in The Players’ Tribune.
He tells how his personal life and his life as a driver changed, on the circuit of Spa, in Belgium, in August 2019. It was a very special weekend for Pierre Gasly. On the sporting level first, when he had started the season in the prestigious Red Bull team, it had just demoted him to his little sister, AlphaTauri. If Pierre Gasly never really returned to this episode, this time he opens up, recounting the discomfort he experienced at Red Bull:
“From the moment I made my first mistake in the single-seater, I felt like the people there slowly started to turn against me. I had had an accident in winter testing and, From then on the season never really started, then the first two races were tough with Red Bull and the media just wore me out. […]
The car wasn’t perfect and I was doing my best to try to improve and learn every week. I really didn’t feel supported and treated the same way as others. And that’s something that I just can’t accept. I was working every day, trying to get results for the team, but I didn’t have all the tools I needed to be successful.”
In the summer of 2019, just after learning that Red Bull was demoting him, he then received a text message from one of his best friends, Anthoine Hubert, also a driver:
“When the news broke a few days later, I got a text from Anthoine. ‘Prove them wrong. Be strong bro. You’re going to show them you deserve your place in a team of front and prove them wrong.’ And my sadness turned into passion. I knew there were nine races left on the calendar. Nine races to show them that they had made a mistake.”
August 31, 2019: Pierre Gasly therefore arrives at Spa and must race in his old new colors, those of AlphaTauri. But an event will make this weekend even more special. On Saturday, the day of practice and qualifying, he watches the first laps of the F2 GP. And then an accident occurs:
“I knew straight away it wasn’t good at all. I knew. There were pieces everywhere, and I knew that on that part of the track, if something goes wrong at that speed, it hurt a lot. It was really hard to tell who had been involved in the accident.
I started shaking. I no longer felt my hands. I couldn’t hear anything anymore. My breathing became irregular and my hands became so sweaty that I had a hard time pulling out my phone to try and check the social media news.
As soon as our debriefing was over, I rushed to the reception area to see my parents and my girlfriend because I knew they would have more information. I remember walking down the stairs and seeing them all crying. I understood what that meant. I knew my buddy was gone. I was completely broken. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore. I have never felt so bad. Never.”
Little by little, Pierre Gasly understands that it is therefore Anthoine Hubert, “the boy with the orange helmet” as he calls him, the one with whom he has shared everything since childhood, lessons, training, victories, defeats, dreams:
“I remember we were in the gym and one of us was looking at the other and saying, ‘Are you tired? – Nah. How about you? – Nah.’ We were both really tired. Exhausted. But we just fed on each other’s energy. We both knew what kind of sacrifices we had made, what our families had done to get us where we were. were.
We had the talent, we had the passion, but we didn’t have big financial backing or any of the other resources you often need to give yourself a chance in F1. But our dream made us friends. And our friendship gave us the chance to surpass ourselves.
But this Saturday came, and my world came crashing down. I lost my friend, my brother. I’ve lost one of the only people, like there are maybe two or three others, who understands really what it’s like to live this life. Antoine and I had been through so much together. We had shared this journey, this journey. And when he left us, a part of me left too.”
August 31, 2019 is therefore the day when everything changes for Gasly. A year later, he returns to the Spa circuit, lays flowers at the bend where his friend lost his life and understands that he has changed. Let a new life begin. The following weekend, at Monza, he won his first Formula 1 Grand Prix. Inevitably, in his head, the boy with the orange helmet was not very far away…
“I kept thinking, ‘Today is my day. There’s no way I’m letting this moment pass. There’s no way.’ And that was my day. That was our daytime. When I crossed the finish line, I just thought of my team, my family, I was so grateful for all their hard work, their sacrifices. I knew I was the one who physically crossed the line, but they were all there, right next to me. […]
And then I thought of the boy in the orange helmet. I have felt it. I knew he was watching. His dreams were my dreams. My dreams were his dreams. And that moment was our moment. Anthoine taught me so many things. Not a race day goes by that I don’t think of him.”
To read Pierre Gasly’s text in full, go to The Players’ Tribune.