This year's Italian Grand Prix was anything but typical. Mercedes-AMG was nowhere near the podium, the Red Bulls didn't score points, and at the top were people you didn't expect. Standing there was Lance Stroll in third, Carlos Sainz Jr. in second, and the winner, Pierre Gasly.
Gasly's career in Formula 1 has seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. He started in 2016 as a test driver and entered full-time in 2017 with Toro Rosso (now known as Alpha Tauri). While his rookie year was fruitless, Gasly's sophomore year was a lot more successful. In 2018, he scooped up 29 points, which was enough for him to move up to Red Bull Racing in 2019.
The young Frenchman's career was on the rise, but his performance in Red Bull didn't meet the standards of Christian Horner and Helmut Marko, the top men over at the team. He was brought back to Toro Rosso with Alex Albon taking his seat at Red Bull Racing. It was about to get worse for Gasly because his best friend, Anthoine Hubert, was killed in a Formula 2 crash.
Gasly spent the rest of 2019 mourning the death of Hubert while racing every other weekend. The races following that fateful weekend were quiet for Gasly, but things would turn around at the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix. He would out drag Lewis Hamilton to the finish line to get his first podium in Formula 1.
2020 started decently for Gasly. The team, now called Alpha Tauri, was consistently running in the top ten. Gasly would bring home points, but he had yet to become a threat for any wins. With Mercedes-AMG and Red Bull Racing regularly locking out the podium, it didn't seem likely that Gasly would get his first win this year.
Then came the Italian Grand Prix. Throughout the race, he was within striking distance of the podium, fending off veterans and young guns alike. Near the halfway point, Gasly was already in third place. When Charles Leclerc crashed out on lap 25, it brought out the red flag, bringing the race to a halt. It was at this point where lady luck shined upon Gasly. At the time, Lewis Hamilton was heading into the pit lane when the marshalls waved the yellow flag. The race leader at the time still entered the pits, which was not allowed under those circumstances. As a result, Hamilton received a 10-second penalty.
When racing resumed, it was Gasly and Lance Stroll fighting for the lead. A daring move in the second hairpin allowed the Alpha Tauri driver to take the first. From there, he held the top spot to take his first win in Formula 1. Had the race been one or two laps longer, the ending might have been different, as McLaren's Carlos Sainz Jr. was charging hard to the front. In the end, Gasly was just less than one second ahead of the Spaniard.
Gasly's Formula 1 career is worthy of a Hollywood remake. He was a rising star in the junior series, and he thrust into the limelight at a young age. When he reached a top-tier team, he was kicked out and dealt with the tragic loss of his best friend. But instead of losing the drive to compete, Gasly rose to the challenge, getting his first podium. With his confidence riding high, he is now Formula 1's 109th different winner.
That's one heck of a redemption story if you ask us.