Felipe Massa believes that Pierre Gasly is simply too good not to be racing for a top F1 team, after Red Bull opted to persist with Sergio Perez for the next two seasons.
Perez has put pen to paper on a new deal with the team, and will partner Max Verstappen until at least the end of 2024, leaving Gasly forced to accept that he may never earn a promotion back to the Milton Keynes-based squad.
After a mighty first full season with Toro Rosso, Gasly was thrust into the Red Bull hot seat for 2019 but failed to score a podium, despite placing inside the points at all but three races.
As a result, he was demoted back to the sister team, with Alex Albon and later Sergio Perez stepping in to replace him.
Since then, Gasly has rebuilt his F1 career to score two podiums and a race win with the lower midfield team, as well as putting in a long list of consistent performances.
It is those regular displays of quality that prove he is now, aged 26, ready to drive for a race-winning team and fight for the big prizes, according to Massa.
“The performances from him, that he’s showing, for a long time already, he’s unbelievable,” the former Ferrari driver told F1 TV.
Gasly ready for a top team, says Massa
Gasly is contracted to AlphaTauri until the end of 2023, but beyond that his future is uncertain.
Several seats have been secured at the leading teams for future years, with Red Bull confirming Verstappen and Perez until the end of 2028 and 2024 respectively, while Charles Leclerc will remain at Ferrari until the end of the 2024 campaign.
However, with Gasly having put the best of his talents on show as he completed some impressive overtakes at the recent Monaco Grand Prix, Massa believes that the Frenchman is deserving of a better car.
“He was really quick all weekend [in Monaco],” continued Massa.
“In qualifying, it didn’t work well, the strategy, the red flag. Things didn’t work in the perfect way.
“He needs a good car because he’s showing that he can drive a top car, he’s showing us that he can fight, even for victories.”
When asked if he felt Gasly was now simply too good to be ignored by the top teams, Massa replied: “Yes, I believe so.”
Massa: Tsunoda just lacking consistency
Meanwhile, Gasly has proven a good benchmark for fellow Red Bull youngster Yuki Tsunoda, who endured a mixed rookie campaign in the sport during 2021.
The pair are separated by just five points in the F1 standings after seven races, with the Japanese racer currently holding the advantage thanks to fine drives in Bahrain and at Imola.
He too will hold ambitions of one day moving to a top team but must first find some consistency, believes Massa, who has been impressed with the 22-year-old.
“I think he’s missing a bit of consistency,” Massa explained.
“At some tracks, he shows the speed and he’s really competitive. He’s able to do a good qualifying, even a good race with some good overtakes.
“It’s just consistency; we know how important consistency is in Formula 1.”