Pierre Gasly says that he remains determined to prove wrong all those who criticised his driving during his brief tenure at Red Bull last year.
Gasly was promoted to the top team at the start of 2019 to replace Daniel Ricciardo, but Helmut Marko and Christian Horner grew frustrated with his inconsistent form compared to team mate Max Verstappen.
They eventually decided to swap him back to the Toro Rosso squad in exchange for Alexander Albon over the summer to see out the remaining nine races of the season.
Both drivers appeared to be boosted by the change, and Gasly went on to pick up a podium with second place in the penultimate race of the season in Brazil.
“There was this swap and I just felt like, okay, this was an unfair situation,” he told Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview. “Now it’s up to me to prove basically to everyone that it was just not the right way.
“I thought now I’ve got these nine races basically to prove my point and prove the speed and prove the skills I have,” he continued. “I needed to just focus on myself, because at the end of the day I’m the one that will make things happen.
“It’s a bit the way I’ve been educated, and also the way I grew up – that I’ve had to fight for everything I wanted in life.
“Nobody ever gave me this and I never took anything for granted,” he added. “Everytime it wasn’t sure if I would continue the year after.
“It wasn’t sure if I will get these seats unless I delivered or performed exactly on that day. Otherwise everything will not be happening. I always had this mentality.”
Gasly admitted that he was disappointed by how quickly everyone had seemed to turn against him when things didn’t immediately click at Red Bull.
“I’ve always been competitive, since I started in single seaters. And then in these six months everybody then starts to question: ‘Okay, does he have the talent?’ ‘Does he have the speed?’ ‘Has he forgotten how to drive?’ ‘Has he forgotten how to brake?’
“It’s not something you forget in two-three weeks, you know!” he responded. “It was people talking s**t without having the information, or having partial information, or not even knowing.
“So for me it was really important to give 110 per cent of myself,” he added. “To make sure I was on top of my game for these nine races, and basically just show the speed I have to stop the BS.”
Gasly ended the season in seventh place in the standings, with a total of 95 points – 63 from his 11 outings at Red Bull augmented by 32 picked up after his return to Toro Rosso. That put him three ahead of Albon and just one behind Carlos Sainz.
As a result of his late season surge, Gasly retains his seat on the grid for 2020 with the team now rechristened AlphaTauri, where he will get another opportunity to show what he can do in F1.