Christian Horner: Pierre Gasly has to 'grab the opportunity' in 2019

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner says Pierre Gasly has to “grab the opportunity” handed to him in Formula 1 this season.

Gasly, who debuted with Toro Rosso towards the end of 2017, was expected to remain with the junior squad for this season, until Daniel Ricciardo’s departure to Renault altered Red Bull’s plans.

Horner nonetheless backed Gasly to perform strongly – and reckons the Frenchman’s prior experience with Honda (with Toro Rosso in 2018 and in Super Formula in 2017) will prove beneficial.

“With Pierre Gasly it is going to take him time to get up to speed,” said Horner.

“He is still very young in terms of experience, once he was with Toro Rosso but perhaps he has been promoted a little earlier than we would have ideally liked.

“But there is never a perfect time you’ve just got to grab that opportunity which he now has.

“He will have the full support of the team and we’ve known him for quite a few years as a member of the junior programme. He knows how we operate and what is expected of him.

“[The Honda experience] has given him a good combination of knowledge so he knows the strengths and weaknesses and is able to focus the engineering team on that.

“I think it’s only a positive that he brings that experience and data bank of knowledge with him.”

Red Bull will also have the second-youngest driver line-up on the 2019 grid but Horner downplayed suggestions that their relative youth could be a drawback.

“Age is irrelevant; it is about how they conduct themselves,” he said.

“I think Max [Verstappen] now has that level of experience, we saw during the second half of last year a really impressive campaign from him, if we continues that momentum into this year I think we can already see he’ll be a phenomenal force to be reckoned with.”