Pierre Gasly spent several years waiting to be the next off the production line from the Red Bull junior programme and a crazy couple of years have put the Frenchman in the top team for 2019 alongside Max Verstappen. Having impressed in Toro Rosso's first year with Honda power units, Gasly was selected as the man to replace Daniel Ricciardo, ahead of fellow academy graduate, and former junior series rival Carlos Sainz.
Gasly was runner-up to Sainz in Formula Renault 3.5 in 2014 – the following year Sainz made his F1 debut for Toro Rosso. Gasly spent 2015 and 2016 in Formula 2, winning the title in the latter season with Prema Racing. Unable to spend another season at that level as champions cannot return to defend their crown, Gasly instead switched to Super Formula for 2017, where he was a title contender with Hiroaki Ishiura and Felix Rosenqvist. Daniil Kvyat's struggles in F1 that year saw Red Bull lose patience towards the end of the year, with Gasly replacing the Russian in Malaysia to make his F1 debut.
Gasly missed the following race in the United States as he travelled back to Japan for the final round of the Super Formula season, but poor weather saw the round cancelled and Ishiura was crowned champion.
Gasly impressed across 2018, outperforming Brendon Hartley in several races and securing points finishes in five races. The Frenchman's crowning moment came at the Bahrain Grand Prix as he drove to a superb fourth place, securing Honda's best result since returning to Formula 1 in 2015. Strong showings in Monaco, Hungary and Belgium convinced Red bull of his talents and he was the man called upon when Ricciardo announced his shock decision to switch to Renault.