Norman Nato, Stoffel Vandoorne and Pierre Gasly in Miami

Gasly gagging to get going

January 10, 2018

The expression "French Leave" means to leave work without permission, but once the 2017 F1 season came to an end, our French driver Pierre Gasly was more than welcome to take some well deserved time-off.

However, it's early January and so we're all focussed on this year and that includes the drivers, who are getting back into the swing of work. Pierre had a short F1 season, as he only came on board for the final few races, but he had a very busy year in general. We caught up with him, as he prepared for his first 2018 session in the simulator.

Pierre, did you feel you needed a holiday once the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was over?

PG: "It was definitely a very busy season on the work front, with my commitment to the Super Formula in Japan and my work in the simulator as third driver for Red Bull, which also involved attending the F1 Grands Prix. It meant a lot of travelling time and dealing with jet lag. I also competed in the Formula E race in New York, which was a new and interesting experience. Of course the end of the year became extra busy once I started racing for Toro Rosso. It was a wonderful experience and finishing second in the Japanese series was great, so being able to relax a bit has been very nice and now I'm fully motivated to tackle the coming season."

What have you been up to since the end of November?

PG: "I've done all sorts of things: After Abu Dhabi, I stayed in the Middle East, spending time with a friend in Dubai and after that, it was time to head home for the holiday period."

You spent it with your family?

PG: "Yes and there are plenty of us as I have four brothers. We don't get much opportunity to see one another during the year, so this was a good way of spending some time all together."

Did you not feel the need to go and find some hot weather?

PG: "Yes, in fact I opted to go to Miami as I had never been there before. I wasn't alone, as I went there with Stoffel Vandoorne and another friend and fellow racer, Norman Nato. I know there was even some snow in Florida recently, but when we were there the weather was fine, around the 23 degree mark, although it started raining the day I left, so I timed that right! After that, I went off skiing in the mountains."

Usually, skiing is considered a bit of a risk for a racing driver just before a new season...

PG: "To be honest, I went less for the skiing and more for the benefits of doing some fitness training at altitude, which is always a good plan. It worked out well and now that I'm back home in Rouen, I've just started an intensive training programme for a week, before heading off for the simulator. After that, there will be a further five weeks of concentrated physical training before testing starts. That will come up quickly!"

We've spotted you on social media at awards ceremonies and in TV studios; have you noticed that you are more in demand now that you are a Formula 1 driver, did you get recognised more often in the streets this winter?

PG: "Yes, I've done a lot more media work this winter and it's increasing all the time. There's definitely more attention on me than before."

Apart from the training and the simulator, what else do the next few weeks hold for you?

PG: "At the start of February, I'll be going to the Toro Rosso factory in Faenza. We already did a preliminary seat fitting for the 2018 car, but there will be more to do on that front, as well as ensuring everything is set for the first test in Barcelona. Testing will be very busy with a lot of work to do, especially as we have a new engine partner. The important thing at the test will be to have a reliable package so we can do as many laps as possible and get a good understanding of where we are with the car, the engine and how the package is planned to evolve. There are only eight days of testing before Australia and that really isn't very much. I am very motivated about all this and I can't wait to start driving again and prepare for the season. To be honest, right from the start of December, it's all I've been thinking of!"