Pierre Gasly shares an amusing story about a trip to Uganda in search of sponsors to secure a drive with Prema in GP2 ahead of F1 move.

It’s a well-known fact that in the early stages of his motor sport career, Lewis Hamilton was assisted tremendously by his father. More so in reality, the dedication of his father who remortgaged their home and worked two jobs in order to finance his sons racing commitments.

Hamilton was unlucky last week but he will be back as he is already a seven times WDC and he should earn number eight over the next few few seasons at least. His fathers dedication as we said at the top is well known. The dedication of drivers in the past has been documented too.

Irishmen Derek Daly & David Kennedy spent months working in the tin mines of Australia in order to finance their racing careers. James Hunt started in motor racing in a little Mini.  Ayrton Senna famously said even though he was talented, unless he had money, he would never had made it to the top.

And the bottom line is purely and simply, money is what makes motor sport go. And drivers if they wish to succeed will need every penny of finance to drive. Particularly in the early stages of their careers. Finance and Sponsorship is hunted down at every opportunity in order to secure drives.

For Alpha Tauri driver Gasly, the 2016 season saw him in GP2 for a third year and with a third different team, this time he drove for Prema Racing. He needed a budget to go racing and an amusing story has emerged of a trip he made in order to find sponsors.

“In my GP2 season I had to find some sponsors and I had a trip to Uganda,” revealed Gasly. “I was supposed to meet a guy that wanted to sponsor me and I needed budget to race with Prema. And my dad was like…it was during the presidential election. So there was a high risk of rebellion in the country and if I wanted to race with Prema, I needed to find money. I’m just going there. But I was, let’s say, maybe 19 at that time.

“And in 24 hours, we decided to take the tickets, go there for 12 hours, to meet an unknown guy that I unfortunately didn’t meet, because he never showed up.  And never got the money.  And I must say, this was a real adventure, because from the start to the end, nothing went as expected. And, went with my mom there, we thought we were never going to go back to Europe.

“And it was actually kind of mind blowing, just to see,, the poverty and the conditions that these people live in. And we went through some, like, sort of favelas and this makes you realize how it is in some places in the world and how poverty affects some of these people. And you know, I came back with no money I actually lost money with the flight tickets, but it was a good life lesson,” summed up Gasly.

It seems like a good life lesson for Gasly and his family and it showed how dedicated he was to raising money. Maybe perhaps and wisely he might have considered a second opinion before encountering such a trip back then. One thing is for sure though, he got the capital somewhere as he went on to win the title that season.

The story was written by Neil Farell

Here’s Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly on P4 and P5 finish