By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Pierre Gasly has Red Bull’s full support but the under-performing Frenchman is going slower the harder he tries and is in need of a mental reset, team boss Christian Horner said on Monday.
Gasly, 23, graduated to the former Formula One world champions this season from sister outfit Toro Rosso but has been off the pace in comparison to his 21-year-old team mate Max Verstappen.
While the Dutch youngster won the last race in Austria at the end of June, despite dropping seven places at the start, Gasly was seventh and lapped.
“That was a very tough moment for him,” Horner told reporters ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
“You could see he was quite emotional at the end of it because he’s got himself into a situation where the harder he’s trying, the slower he goes.
“We know what he’s capable of as a driver, which is a long way beyond what we’ve seen so far,” added the Briton.
Gasly’s best result in nine races this season was a fifth in Monaco. Verstappen has been on the podium three times and finished fourth on a further five occasions.
Horner said Gasly just needed to turn the page and gain confidence. He said there had been ‘good bits and some disappointing bits’ so far.
“Obviously there’s an awful lot of scrutiny on him at the moment, an awful lot of speculation about how long his future will be,” he said. “But as a team he has our full support, we’re doing our best to work with him.
“(He should) not focus too much on the data and try to be perfect, and just drive the car and ignore his team mate. That’s my advice to him,” added the Briton.
“Turn your phone off, don’t look at any of the social media and just drive the car.”
Gasly was in GP2 (now Formula Two) in 2016 and impressed enough with Toro Rosso last year to be moved up when Australian Daniel Ricciardo left Red Bull for Renault.
He crashed a couple of times in pre-season testing, however, and has struggled alongside one of the sport’s shining and most confident young talents, with Verstappen seen as a future champion.
“Sport can change so quickly where confidence is such a big factor,” said Horner.
“I think if he just starts to find a bit of confidence, starts to go his way, you’ll see a switch in him that will ramp up quite quickly because he is very much a confidence driver.”
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Clare Fallon)