Getty Images

F1 2017 driver review: Pierre Gasly

Leave a comment

Pierre Gasly

Team: Toro Rosso
Car No.: 10
Races: 5
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P12 (Brazil)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 0
Championship Position: 21st

With the regular season Formula 1 drivers now reviewed, we move on to the drivers who completed just a handful of races through the 2017 season, starting with Pierre Gasly.

After winning the GP2 title in 2016, Gasly was originally placed in the Japanese Super Formula series for this year by Red Bull in order to allow him to gain more experience before making the step up to F1 amid reservations about his readiness.

Gasly was handed an early call-up when Daniil Kvyat was benched for underperforming, making his debut in Malaysia where he reached Q2 on debut with an impressive showing.

Gasly took 13th at Suzuka one week later, but then had to skip the next race, the United States Grand Prix, in order to compete in the Super Formula finale that he entered trailing the points leader by just half a point. It proved to be a fruitless trip, though, as a typhoon resulted in the finale being cancelled, denying Gasly a shot at the title.

Gasly turned in a solid display upon his return in Brazil, finishing 12th, and ended up a lowly 16th in Abu Dhabi to finish the season amid recurring engine problems for the Renault-powered team.

Gasly didn’t really get a chance to show what he can do in F1 through his five-race stint, but gained plenty of experience that will help for 2018 when he races full-time with Toro Rosso.

Ben Hanley relieved to make Indy 500 debut

Leave a comment

Qualifying for the Indy 500 is never an easy task, especially for a new driver and team, and with 36 cars vying for 33 starting positions last weekend, 34-year-old rookie Ben Hanley knew there was a chance he and his DragonSpeed team would not make the show.

“I wouldn’t say we were very confident, but we wanted to [make the field],” Hanley told NBC Sports. “The biggest thing we were trying to achieve was to not be on track on Sunday in the shootout because it only takes one mistake or one little issue and that’s it, you’re not in the race.”

But Hanley would not have to worry about being bumped from the field. He qualified 27th after making three attempts on Day 1, which was enough to lock the No. 81 team into the show. Not too shabby for a driver and team making only their third NTT IndyCar Series start.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

“That last run everything just came together,” Hanley said. “We trimmed out a little bit more and found a good balance of trim and grip over four [qualifying] laps and it was enough to get us through.

“It was a huge relief to get through in P27. A massive achievement for everybody involved.”

Indeed it was a massive achievement, as DragonSpeed is one of the smallest teams in the garage, with no corporate sponsors and a tiny team of around 20 personnel. Many of those were picked up by the team just a week before qualifying, when members of the team’s regular crew were denied entry into the United States due to visa issues after leaving a sports car race in Italy.

“It was all down to the team organizing some people who were in and around Indianapolis who weren’t needed for the race weekend,” Hanley said. “Obviously, I don’t think many people are going to refuse the chance to work on a car that’s trying to qualify for the 500.”

Though the team made its first Indy 500 on Day 1 of qualifying, the DragonSpeed team did not spend Saturday night out late celebrating. Instead, Hanley said the extra time was spent preparing for the race.

“We went straight on to race prep then for the car, so Sunday was a good day for the guys to take time to prep the car into the race spec and get everything sorted out in a nice, organized manner.”

Following the Indy 500, DragonSpeed will run two other races this season at Road America and Mid-Ohio. The team is hopeful that a good run at Indy will result in an opportunity to run a bigger schedule next season and attract sponsors.

Hanley stated that though he’s happy to have made the Indy 500 starting grid for the first time in his career, the magnitude of his feat hasn’t hit him yet.

“It hasn’t really soaked in yet,” he said. “I think it will soak in on Sunday when we roll out to the grid.

“It was such a huge relief to not be involved in Bump Day. Even just watching [Bump Day] it was intense, especially with the weather. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be involved in that.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter