Pierre Gasly predicts that this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix could be the “trickiest” race for Max Verstappen to win yet in the 2023 Formula 1 season.
Verstappen has utilised the dominance of Red Bull’s RB19 car to crushing effect by winning 11 of the 13 races this year.
The reigning champion’s victory last Sunday at the Dutch Grand Prix was his ninth in a row, equalling Sebastian Vettel’s record for the most consecutive wins in F1 history.
Gasly believes Verstappen’s current rampant run is a combination of Red Bull’s huge performance advantage and his confidence rising with every passing win, leaving him to enter every race weekend feeling “invincible”.
When asked what makes the Dutchman so strong, Gasly, who partnered Verstappen for a brief period in 2019, said: “At some point when you put all good ingredients together you end up with a good deal. You try and do a good pizza with rotten tomatoes it doesn’t work, they’ve got a good base, a good car, and excellent driver, he is the focus of the team, everything is performing at its best exactly at the same moment, which ends up with such a domination.
“He is performing at his best, Red Bull’s car is objectively and definitely the fastest in this paddock, they do very mistakes, they are often the fastest at pit stops. They’re at the top of their game and there is nothing really which seems to unsettle them, especially on his side of the garage.
“As a driver he’s very talented, you start winning once, twice, third, you build the confidence on top of the skills you have, and every single weekend you come with the fastest car, so it’s feeling a bit invincible. That’s a bit where they’re at the moment.”
Verstappen could become the first-ever driver in F1 to win 10 straight races if he triumphs in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
However, Gasly asserts that the various challenges provided at Monza could present the two-time F1 title winner with his toughest test of the season to date.
Nevertheless, Verstappen’s supreme drive at Zandvoort in mixed weather conditions has led Gasly to heap praise on the “mature” manner in which he manages races despite the car advantage at his disposal.
“I think this one is actually probably the trickiest one for Max to win – it’s Monza, very different track, you’re on very low drag, quite a lot incidents can happen into Turn 1, you have a massive gain with DRS so if someone is fastest enough to stick with their DRS the whole race they could get a chance to… I‘d be surprised if he pulls a 30-second lead like he can do on some other tracks, you’ve got to appreciate what he does as he doesn’t make any mistakes,” the Frenchman explained.
“Even last weekend he can have the fastest car, but you can lock up and go straight, I think he’s been very mature in the way he’s taken risks, when they were there, and you can see it. There were times last weekend in the wet he wasn’t pulling away from the others; he’s faster, he could be faster, but you know he’s got it under control, and he knows when he can give away three-tenths and not make too many risks and then really push when things are more stable.
“He’s very complete and mature in the way he approached it.”