Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admits that Pierre Gasly was promoted to the energy drink team faster than it would have liked. Gasly received the call up following Daniel Ricciardo's decision to leave the team following the end of the 2018 season.
Gasly spent his first full season in Formula 1 last year after he made his debut with Toro Rosso towards the conclusion of the 2017 campaign. At the second round of the season in Bahrain, he recorded a fourth-place finish - which remains his best result to date.
Gasly has the tall task of going up against Max Verstappen, who has five Grand Prix victories to his name. However, Red Bull has confirmed that it will give the Frenchman time to adapt to fighting at the front of the field.
"Pierre is a very quick driver and it is up to us to give him a little bit of time to get up to speed," Horner told Autosport. "It is faster than we would have originally liked to elevate him into the team, so Max will be very much taking on the role of the experienced senior driver and Pierre is going to have to go up against a very competitive team-mate."
"It is not going to be easy. Of course it is not. But he knows what is expected of him. And in actual fact, for the team, it is a far easier scenario than it has been in previous years. We have got a clear difference between the experience in the two drivers and the expectations."
Speaking about Verstappen, Horner says that the Dutchman will be one to watch in 2019 after his strong end to the 2018 season. At the last nine Grands Prix, Verstappen grabbed seven podiums, including one victory.
"You are always learning and he is such a young driver," said Horner. "What we have seen is that all drivers make mistakes. We have seen that with experienced drivers as well. As he is gaining more and more experience he is applying it extremely well."
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing