Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is not expecting Pierre Gasly to take the fight to Max Verstappen straight away next year. Gasly will join the energy drink squad in place of Daniel Ricciardo, who announced in August that he will leave at the end of the season to take a seat at Renault.
2018 has been Gasly's first full season in F1, but came into the season with some experience having driven four of the final five races in 2017. The Frenchman has impressed in his time with Toro Rosso and has scored 29 out of Toro Rosso's 33 points this year.
However Red Bull is not expecting the 2016 GP2 champion to be on Verstappen's level straight away: "I think it will be a challenge for Pierre, but he is motivated," Horner told Autosport. "He went through the same program as Max, and you know, he's here because we think he's the best new talent and he deserves that opportunity in the car.
"So, we are expecting great things from Pierre next year, (however) it would be unfair to expect him to give Max some immediate trouble, I think he'll have to be patient with him. I think Max has reached a very high level and is one of the most outstanding talents in Formula 1. It is clear that Daniel (Ricciardo) had difficulties against Max this year, but their race pace was very comparable.
"Next year, we have to give Pierre time, but I think he's a great talent," Horner continued. "It's only been a year since he has been in F1, but he's had great races, if you look at Bahrain, Monaco and Hungary in particular... there are a number of races where he has been (brilliant)."
Red Bull will partner Honda next year after the Japanese manufacturer's encouraging stint supplying engines to Toro Rosso this year. Gasly joins the Milton Keynes squad with experience driving the Honda engine, while Verstappen is yet to test the new power unit.
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing