The surprise exit of Daniel Ricciardo from championship contenders Red Bull Racing to join middle-of-the-grid Renault may mean the end of the ‘shoey’ in Formula One in 2019, but the Australian’s replacement hasn’t ruled out continuing the tradition.
“Hopefully it will be my turn to do it,” French driver Pierre Gasly exclusively told Wide World of Sports.
Gasly could be forgiven for not taking to drinking from his shoe as well as lovable larrikin Ricciardo did in his podium finishes with Red Bull Racing, but the pair do share a very similar path.
Both drivers had an F1 apprenticeship with Toro Rosso – Ricciardo for two years, Gasly for one year – before landing a place with Red Bull Racing in their early 20s.
Though Ricciardo is now with a team which hasn’t finished on a F1 podium in three years, while Gasly is in prime position to make a statement as a fresh-faced newcomer in a top team, the Frenchman said the Aussie has been nothing but supportive of him.
Gasly praised the achievements of Ricciardo and revealed how he has generously assisted him in his career.
“When he was at Toro, he was teammates with Jean-Éric Vergne and that took him to Red Bull and of course I always followed him. I know him pretty well. He’s a brilliant driver with Red Bull Racing since 2014 who has always been really good to me,” Gasly said.
“He’s always tried to help me in the lower series and tried to give me advice in double-up races or even within Red Bull on how to work with the team; always really nice with me.
“So I would say even though we are not super close, I can call him a friend. He’s a great guy, always has a smile on his face all the time.”
“Things don’t happen by luck, you need to create it. I’m fortunate to be here today thanks to the hard work I’ve put in.”
While teammate Max Verstappen holds a majority of the expectations going into the 2019 season, Gasly too wants to make a statement with his new team.
“I’m super excited about this opportunity in my second year of Formula One,” Gasly said.
“I’m really looking forward to working with Max. I would say he’s one of the most talented guys on the grid at the moment and for me to be next to him in my second year in Formula One and to keep developing myself, it is really the best place for me.”
Gasly, 23, has known Verstappen, 21, for almost 10 years during their junior years karting in Europe, where the Frenchman said they “had some really good battles”. Off the track they seem to have a solid relationship too, known to enjoy a game of FIFA during their downtime.
Now on a team together, Gasly said he plans on learning from Verstappen while he competes alongside the Dutchman.
“We know each other really well. We spent some time last year together out of the track and I think he’s a really good friend,” Gasly said.
“We get on really well together which is a positive for the team.
“I’m really looking forward to working with him. He has showed the speed, the talent and the heart, and he’s been really competitive.
“So for me to be next to him in my second year in Formula One and to keep developing myself, it is really the best place for me.”