Christian Horner has revealed that part of the reason Red Bull decided to demote Pierre Gasly back to Toro Rosso is that he was struggling with the pressure of performing for the bigger team.
Last week Red Bull confirmed that Gasly would be dropped in favour of Alexander Albon, with the Frenchman failing to get to grips with his new team. He was easily bettered by Max Verstappen for the whole first half of the season, despite the duo having the same car.
Even though Horner and Helmut Marko continually defended Gasly’s position, they decided to replace him after taking some time to think after the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“We took a bit of time to reflect after Hungary,” Horner told Sky Sports at the Belgian GP.
“Hungary was obviously a tough weekend for Pierre.
“We came to a conclusion that it was almost fairer for Pierre and from a team perspective, to say ‘we’re in a unique position where we’ve got four cockpits in Formula 1, let’s take the pressure off him.’
“He was obviously struggling with that pressure. The situation was getting worse and worse and compounding itself. [We decided] to give him time to rebuild himself in Toro Rosso, to give Alex the chance.”
Another candidate for Gasly’s seat was Daniil Kvyat, who gained a podium spot in Germany, but Red Bull opted for Albon so they could see how he performs in the second half of the year.
“We know Danny Kvyat, we know him very well, we see his potential,” Horner insisted.
“But with Alex we’ve seen his potential as well with the simulator running he’s been doing and so on. [So we decided] to take these nine races to evaluate him between now and the end of the year to decide who’s going to be Max [Verstappen’s] team-mate for next year.”
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