Pierre Gasly was left “struggling to realise” his maiden Formula 1 victory after taking a shock win for AlphaTauri in the Italian Grand Prix.
Gasly capitalised on a red flag stoppage to rise from 10th in the first stint to line up third on the grid for the restart behind Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll.
Gasly was able to pass Stroll at the start before inheriting the lead when Hamilton was forced to serve a stop/go penalty after entering the pit lane when it was closed during the first safety car period.
A late charge from McLaren’s Carlos Sainz Jr meant Gasly came under pressure entering the final lap, running less than one second ahead, but he was able to hold on and take the win by just 0.4 seconds.
“It’s unbelievable,” Gasly said after the race. “It was such a crazy race. We capitalised on the red flag. The car was fast out there, we had a pretty fast car behind us.
“I’ve been through so much in the space of 18 months. My first podium last year, I was already like wow with AlphaTauri, and now my first win in Monza. I’m struggling to realise [it].”
It marked Gasly’s second podium finish in F1 following his second-place finish at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix for AlphaTauri.
The result also comes a little over a year since he was dropped by Red Bull and returned to Toro Rosso due to poor form.
Gasly paid tribute to the team’s support and faith in him, having made his F1 debut for Toro Rosso back in 2017.
“I have no words,” Gasly said. “This team have done so much for me. They gave me my first opportunity in F1, they gave me my first podium. Now they are giving me my first win.
“It’s crazy, honestly. It’s just crazy. I’m so happy. I can’t thank them enough, everybody from AlphaTauri to Honda.
“It’s a power sensitive track and we won the race out of all the Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault cars, so just an amazing day.”
Gasly also became the first French driver to win a grand prix since Olivier Panis at Monaco in 1996, ending a 24-year drought.
“I’ve always said coming in F1 that’s one thing we need to change, because it’s been so long [since a Frenchman won],” Gasly said.
“I never expected that it would happen to us with AlphaTauri. We just kept focusing on ourselves since last year, working improving step by step.
“It’s crazy, honestly. I’m just so happy.”