When Pierre Gasly rejoined us from Red Bull, some paddock pundits said this was a backward step for him, but to everyone at Toro Rosso, he was the returning Prodigal Son, popular with everyone, as a driver who always did his utmost to be a team player.
In Interlagos on Sunday, it seemed as though the whole paddock, the crowd, the TV commentators, in short everyone, could not have been happier to see him on the second step of the podium. The Prodigal Son had indeed returned! It was an incredible result and our second podium of the year, after Daniil had come third in Hockenheim back in the summer. And apart from Pierre’s massive score of 18 points for second place, his team-mate made it to tenth at the flag to give us a grand total of 19. That means we have sailed past Racing Point to go sixth in the Constructors’ championship and we are now just eight points adrift of fifth placed Renault, with one race to go. Could we do it? It’s going to be a very tough task, but the morale boosting Brazilian result means we will head to Abu Dhabi believing in ourselves and believing anything is possible.
We won’t be vulgar and talk about money, but those 19 points and our position in the Championship are hugely valuable in terms of our development budget for 2020 and beyond, which is another cause for celebration. But for the moment, we will just enjoy this great result for a few hours, before getting stuck into preparing for the 21st and final round of the season. In the paddock it seemed as though everyone wanted to congratulate Pierre, starting with his former team-mate Max Verstappen who came to find him after all the noise had subsided and gave him a hug. And considering what a tough afternoon Charles Leclerc experienced, it was nice to see the Ferrari man come and congratulate the driver he is probably closest to in the paddock. But it was the celebrations with our team members which were the most passionate, with some of the guys in tears at the thought of what the team had just achieved.
Even in the press conference, the other drivers were full of praise for Pierre, starting with Max. “I always knew he was a very quick driver. I think this year in the beginning maybe didn’t work out the way it should but, as you can see, I think Pierre is very strong and, at Toro Rosso again, he regrouped and he had already before this race a lot of good results.” And six times world champion Lewis Hamilton was also impressed. “He did a fantastic job. He put the car in the right place in every section of the track, was very fair and didn’t make any mistakes. So, hats off to him. He did a fantastic job.” And incredibly, Pierre is now sixth in the Drivers’ classification, although equal on points with Carlos Sainz. It could be an interesting battle between these two at Yas Marina to see who can claim the title of “Best Driver Not From A Top Three Team.”