Gasly still a Red Bull candidate as Verstappen praises Brazil podium

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Red Bull have reassured Pierre Gasly he remains a candidate for a future return to the senior team following his podium in Brazil.

After a season which went downhill pretty sharply and saw him dropped from Red Bull in the summer, the Frenchman enjoyed perhaps a steeper bounce back up as he out-dragged Lewis Hamilton to the line to finish second in Sao Paulo.

That led to huge celebrations for him and everyone across both teams, with his former teammate Max Verstappen, who won at Interlagos, thrilled for Gasly.

“How do I rate Pierre’s podium? Incredible,” the Dutchman said. “Best of the rest is already a good result and then you just stay out of trouble and other people make mistakes and you profit from that.

“It’s great to see Pierre up here [in the top three]. Now it’s also the second podium for Toro Rosso already this year, so I think they are very happy with this.

“I always knew he was a very quick driver. This year in the beginning maybe didn’t work out the way it should but, as you can see, I think Pierre is very strong and, at Toro Rosso again, he regrouped.

“Already before this race he had a lot of good results. So, this is an even bigger motivation.”

For Red Bull boss Christian Horner, it was a result which highlighted how Gasly has not let the disappointment from his start to this season impact his confidence, as it did Daniil Kvyat in 2016.

“He had two choices, he could either get depressed about it or be grateful for the fact he was still involved in F1 and Red Bull still believed in him, and I think he embraced it rather than got dejected by it," he told RACER.

“It’s great to see him get his first podium, so it’s a fantastic day for Red Bull. Hopefully, that confidence will only continue to grow.”

In the build-up to the race at Interlagos, it was confirmed the 23-year-old would stay at what will become Alpha Tauri in 2020, but Horner insisted the sky was still his limit.

“If we didn’t believe he was a candidate for us we would have released him from the contract,” he added.

"Putting him back into the slightly-less pressured environment at Toro Rosso, perhaps in a car that is slightly easier to drive, his confidence has been recovering and he’s put in some great performances.

“But obviously we still believe in his talent and that’s why we retained him within the group."

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Speaking after his second-place finish, Gasly related to that point claiming he had never had the chance to compete at his best with Red Bull. 

“As a driver, you never forget how to drive within a couple of weeks, a couple of months," he told RaceFans.

"At Red Bull, it felt like we were 80 per cent of the potential we had most of the races, for different reasons.

“Since I joined Toro Rosso this has changed a bit and every weekend and I feel I’m able to put stronger performances.

“This is of course more enjoyable, but ultimately as a driver, you always want to be the fastest car possible.”