"I knew I had a big head but seeing it on the big screen..."


Pierre Gasly stares up at the white expanse of the screen that had just finished beaming his scaled-up face at the Formula 1: Drive to Survive season 4 premiere.

The Netflix smash-hit docuseries promises more controversy, more thudding drama, more smug grins from Christian Horner than ever before. Gasly's grinning soundbite sets the tone in the trailer: "What are we going to talk about this year?"

We know exactly what F1:DTS will talk about. A gladiatorial battle for the ages between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton swallowed up every inch of expanding Formula 1 columns in 2021, the eye of an increasingly roused public transfixed on the Red Bull and Mercedes locking front wings, sparks flying. Blockbuster drama.

Despite record TV audiences tuning in for live races around the world, the supporting cast of motorsport's greatest soap opera operated under the duelling shadows for much of 2021, such was the ferocity of the title battle that transcended sport.

A number of drivers flourished away from the glare of mounting interest, including Gasly, who finished ninth in the driver standings – the best of the rest after the two title contenders, plus historic titans Ferrari and McLaren.

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Gasly – whose demotion by Red Bull was a key focus of F1:DTS in season 2 – spoke exclusively to RadioTimes.com as the plucky AlphaTauri driver reflected on a "complete" season for him and his team, as well as his fierce ambitions going into 2022.

Gasly is an unassuming figure. Clad in a plain cream jumper and dark jeans, relatively tall in a stable of diminutive F1 drivers, he doesn't fit the mould of a sparky young race car driver with nine top-six finishes in the sport last season

He's an articulate speaker, a deep thinker, polite. The way he speaks about racing, Gasly is clearly relaxed, settled, exuding the quiet confidence of a man who knows he's punching above his car's weight yet feels he's still got haymakers to come.

Pierre Gasly F1
Pierre Gasly at the Formula 1: Drive to Survive season 4 premiere Getty Images

"There is nothing in my life that triggers that much excitement and adrenaline inside my own body [as driving in Formula 1].

"There are some times it does feel like I'm driving something other than an AlphaTauri!

"I've been really enjoying it. I've seen the evolution from 2018 to 2021, how the team has shaped up and built confidence through all these years. When I came we were fighting for 12th or 13th position then I came back [after Red Bull in 2019] and suddenly we're fighting for top 10s.

"We managed to get our first podium together, we managed to get our first win together but last year was by far our most complete season.

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"The level that I've seen from the team really made me enjoy and appreciate every race. We came and everything was possible, every single time – that was the mentality. The season last year was insane. I think all of us, we even told ourselves at the end of the year, 110 points is something we never thought we could achieve but we did it. The target is to do even better this season. I'm definitely going for that second win."

He grins, a hundred turns flash through his eyes as memories of that glorious win in Monza clearly screech through his brain. He can't help but grin.

That remarkable race in 2020 saw Gasly capitalise on safety cars, penalties and a red flag restart to claim his maiden victory in Formula 1 against all the odds.

The Frenchman, just 24 at the time, was forced to fend off an intense challenge from Carlos Sainz, then at McLaren, as his pace started to fade. Gasly led for the final 25 laps: "It was a long end of the race, it was way too long," he jokes nervously, as though the lead could still be retrospectively torn from his grip two years after the fact.

While appreciating that the AlphaTauri car enveloping him simply won't boast the dominance of 2022 creations from 'parent team' Red Bull or wound-licking Mercedes, Gasly's target for 2022 is simple: "Winning races."

"I think objectively, the way I see it is 23 races, 23 opportunities. There are going to be things happening, we have got to be the one always there showing our nose. Whenever there's going to be an opportunity, we have got to be the one taking it.

"Last year there was Budapest, it was kind of a crazy race. Baku was kind of crazy, there were a couple of crazy ones. And that's going to be the target. We'll try everything to make it happen."

He is under no illusions. He will not be leading from the front in 2022. However, it's clear he relishes the underdog status without toning down his ambition.

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Gasly is determined to win races but knows he must be smart, generate pressure on the pack ahead and seize opportunities to pounce when they arise, forgoing any delusion of dominance, instead carving out his role as an opportunist on the grid.

And he is meticulous in his preparation to do exactly that: "What I love about F1 is that it requires such a high level of attention and focus. I'm the sort of person, I'm thinking a lot, I always have a lot going on in my head thinking about a lot of things, I'm just that kind of guy.

Pierre Gasly F1
Pierre Gasly will feature in F1 testing this week Getty Images

"F1 is the only moment where I can really feel myself focused on one specific thing. I'm completely extracting any external thoughts that are always in my head, like every single day. You're really focused on the moment and that's what it's all about.

"You have got to be focused on one thing. Next corner, what do I have to do to go as fast as possible? To be very like 'one step at a time' once you're in the car. There is no space for any external thoughts, which I love. This level of attention is just insane.

"This year literally feels like two seasons in one because the break was so short. I had a couple of days off with my family over Christmas with my friends but I was straight back into training because last year was intense but this year is going to be very tough.

"There are 23 races in four or five weeks less than last year. It's just gonna be like weekend after weekend and I wanted to get physically ready for it. That's why I only took a short break and then straight back into training."

The spotlight won't naturally pour down on Pierre Gasly in 2022 but given his form, given his focus, don't be shocked if this rising star demands your attention before long.

"I want the second win."

Formula 1: Drive to Survive season 4 launches globally on Friday 11th March 2022, exclusively on Netflix.

If you’re looking for something else to watch, check out our TV Guide or visit our Sport hub for all the latest news.


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