Gasly opens up on learning from 'very special' Hamilton influence

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Pierre Gasly said Lewis Hamilton's words of praise after his Italian Grand Prix win were "very touching" and has revealed how much advice the reigning world champion has given him in recent months.

Hamilton complimented Gasly after his stunning first F1 victory at Monza, saying the performance showed Red Bull was wrong to drop the French driver to its second team Alpha Tauri last year. Gasly has revived his career since that move and even before the Monza result had been one of the standout drivers of the 2020 season so far.

Gasly has revealed that he regularly exchanges messages and questions with Hamilton.

Speaking on the latest episode of the ESPN F1 Podcast, Gasly said: "For me Lewis is a very special guy, someone I really looked at when I was a kid and in my eyes is probably the best driver we ever had in F1, or at least part of the two or three top guys if not the best guy.

"So when I heard the words he said it's obviously very touching and unbelievable, because for me it feels strange because these guys I looked at since I'm 10 years old and was always a great example to follow and now I'm racing with him and he's talking this way about me.

"I got to know him a bit more in the last two years, we actually texted the day before on Saturday, before the race, and all over the weekend, as I wanted to ask him some advice on other things. He's been always very nice to me, very open, always trying to help."

"When you get such strong words from a six-time world champion, who will become a seven-time world champion in a couple of months, it's pretty special."

Hamilton is two race wins away from Michael Schumacher's record of 91 victories. He also looks set to equal Schumacher's record seven world titles later this year.

Gasly said it is natural to want to learn from someone who has achieved so much.

"I was thinking about Lewis, about Seb [Vettel], they are the most successful guys in our sport at the moment. There is a reason why they are the best. For me I always think there are some things to learn from these guys and their experience.

"I really like to question and try to understand how did they manage to get their success over the years and really to keep the momentum... what's impressive with Lewis is he's been on top since year one in F1 and has gone from strength to strength every year. He is at the top level since his first season in F1 and for me that's unbelievable.

"Obviously, everything I can learn from him, I try to take everything with me."

Gasly revealed he and Hamilton grew closer during lockdown through regular online games of Call of Duty.

Asked who was the better player, he said: "It's hard to say! It's pretty funny to play together and team up together as it's very different to normal, we've got to help each other if we want to get the win.

"Obviously in corona time, during the lockdown, we did spend some more time on the PlayStation. It was actually nice because we started to discuss F1 and got to know each other a bit more. I got a lot from that time and I feel like when I need a couple of advice I am free to reach him and he's always really open and willing to help me back. He's a very nice guy."