After guiding his STR14 to a career high P2 at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, French Formula One ace Pierre Gasly described achieving a maiden F1 podium as ‘the best day of my life’.
We caught up with the Scuderia Toro Rosso driver to talk us through in detail his whirlwind 24 hours.
9.15AM – Light’s on, go go go!
I woke up and had slept for around nine hours which is what I need before race day to feel fully energized. I woke up sharp and with good energy. I am normally pretty good at jumping out of bed, and don’t need to snooze or fight the alarm.
The race wasn’t my first thought when I woke up, but slowly my mind started to think about potential scenarios. You don’t want to start overthinking things though as the race is still five hours away.
I didn’t feel like going down for a big breakfast so I had an energy bar in my hotel room while I started to get ready to leave. I had some music on in the background. Normally I have my own playlist with a lot of US rap. I don’t know why, but this weekend I changed from that and listened to the top 50 current pop songs on Spotify.
10.10AM – First drive of the day
It always takes a bit longer on race day to get to the track as there are so many people around. I travel with my trainer, as the rest of the team leave much earlier. We arrived at the track at around 10.45AM. I wasn’t nervous on the way, I was excited about what was to come. I tried to keep my head in the right space and save energy, as I had a really busy morning ahead.
11AM – Information overload and food time
I usually try to eat my main meal during the race meeting at the track around two-and-a-half hours before the race start. I had quinoa, chicken and vegetables and then some red fruits like berries and strawberries.
During the meeting I talked with the engineers about the upcoming strategies, the start, the conditions and the fine tuning of the car with the tyres and balance. Absolutely everything is covered in this meeting including the data from the year before and earlier in the week.
12.50PM – Power nap
We don’t get much time to relax on race day, but after the driver’s parade at 12.30PM, it is my time to switch off and recharge all the energy I have used in the morning. I go to my room and the team know not to disturb me. I had a little power nap for about 15 minutes on the massage table.
1.15PM – Race suit on and warm-up underway
This is when things started to get real. I woke up, put my race suit on and started my warm-up. I try to gently warm up all the muscles I will use in the car. I have a routine of exercises which are quite general and not too intense, but it makes me feel ready for the race.
1.55PM – Grid walk and strapping in
The grid may look like chaos from the outside, but I don’t see anyone. I am in my zone and am so concentrated on what is to come, I blank everything out. I got strapped in the car and was talking to my engineer. I told him everything felt really good and I didn’t want to touch anything. I felt right away the car was going to go pretty well.
2.10PM – The start of a classic race
The adrenaline was now pumping. I knew I had a good starting position in P6 and knew I could have a good result which was important for the team. I didn’t expect to be fighting for the podium although I knew if anything happened at the end of the race, I could maybe benefit from it. As it turned out, that is what happened.
The last lap was really intense. I had Lewis behind me going into the last corner and I could see his front wing next to me. I was full on trying to get the maximum power out of the car, holding down the overtake button, and trying to get even lower in the cockpit to get any extra speed I could get out of the car to hold on.
3.48PM – A dream come true
I started shouting pure joy and happiness until I started to lose my voice. I had so many emotions running through me. The feeling was incredible. I didn’t know how I would react until the moment and it just came out. I reacted in a way I didn’t expect.
From the moment I crossed the line I was in another world. The emotions were so strong. It is almost like a movie script what has happened in 2019 for me. Things didn’t work out the way I wanted at the beginning, but I really worked hard on my side to bounce back, show my speed and my talent.
A lot of people have asked me about my first thoughts after crossing the finish line. Obviously, I was so happy, but this year has also been difficult and very emotional. Especially with losing one of my friends, Anthoine Hubert. I crossed the line and thought of him. We grew up together, and I thought about the fact I am living a moment we both dreamed of.
For the team as well, it meant so much, it was amazing to see everyone so happy.
4PM – ‘Gasly, Gasly, Gasly’
I heard so much noise. I thought I could hear the end of my name being sung but wasn’t sure. I found out later the fans were actually chanting ‘Gasly’ which was an incredible moment. Something I will never forget for the rest of my life.
In the lower categories, you get used to fighting for podiums and victories and getting a lot of trophies and celebrations. In F1, this doesn’t come easily. I was really missing the podium celebrations as my last one was in Super Formula in 2017. To get back there on the box was really something I had missed, so I enjoyed it even more.
5.30PM – First look at my mobile phone
After the podium it was really busy with media commitments and sponsor requirements. It was about 90 minutes after the race when I got back to the garage, where everyone was waiting for me and screaming.
This was also the first time I got to check my phone. I didn’t know where to start as I had so many messages from family, friends and people who have supported me. I called my family and my girlfriend, as they weren’t in Brazil and enjoyed the moment with them.
8PM – Wild celebrations?
Unfortunately not! I stayed at the track until 8PM with the engineers and mechanics which was pretty cool. I then had a flight back to France, so went straight from the track to the airport. I arrived at 9.30PM and spent my evening at the airport! I had the trophy with me though, as I knew when I landed in Paris, I would meet my parents and two of my brothers and they would want to see it.
11.30PM – Take off
On the flight I could start to think about the day that had just gone, the best day of my life. I didn’t sleep much as I was so excited and had so much adrenaline and emotion. I didn’t want the moment to end.
You don’t often get much opportunity to thank the people who have helped you throughout your career. In this moment, I wanted to say thank you to all the people who had helped me get where I am today and had given me the opportunity to live that kind of moment.