Gasly opens up on Red Bull demotion

SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium -- Pierre Gasly can remember the exact time he was told he was losing his Red Bull seat -- 8.42am on the morning of the news being made public in early August.

Just a week into F1's summer break, Red Bull confirmed it was sending the out-of-form Frenchman back to Toro Rosso and promoting rookie Alexander Albon to the senior team.

Just a week earlier, after the Hungarian Grand Prix, Red Bull boss Christian Horner had said it was the team's intention to see out the season with Gasly at the helm.

That all changed in the days which followed, however, leaving an unprepared Gasly to receive a bit of abrupt news from Helmut Marko, the head of the energy drinks company's driver programme.

"I found out in the morning it had been decided, and yeah of course, kind of a shock and disappointed because it's not what I had been told before also after Budapest," Gasly told the press ahead of this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix.

"Whether I understand it or not is not going to change it, so I didn't spend too much time thinking about it.

"Now the only thing I need to focus on is performing in these nine coming races with Toro Rosso at my best, and this is what I am going to focus on."

Marko is known for calling Red Bull junior drivers in the early hours of the morning to make very abrupt phone calls about their form.

When asked if this was one of those infamous 7am calls, Gasly replied simply "8:42."

The news broke several hours later, with Gasly and Albon both preparing for their holidays.

While Gasly spoke to the media in Toro Rosso gear from the Red Bull hospitality unit in the paddock, the Holzshaus, Albon faced the media in the Thursday press conference.

Albon found out on the same day and in an equally matter-of-fact kind of way from Marko, only this time at Red Bull HQ in Austria.

"It was kind of just a normal thing, a daily catch up with Dr. Marko in his office in Austria and that's pretty much how the conversation went," Albon said. "That kind of conversation came through, it was one of those things, 'oh by the way this is what's going on', and that was pretty much it.

"I think you [the media] knew only an hour after I did so I think it was quite close in that sense. But it was all OK."

While Albon has been given a race-winning car for the 13th race of his F1 career, he faces an unenviable task alongside Max Verstappen, who has won two races this year and finished on the podium on five other occasions. Albon is happy to just focused on everything on his side of the garage this weekend.

"Regarding Max, on my side it's just really about focusing on myself," Albon added. "I'm not looking too much at Max at the minute.

"I know that I'm coming in quite experienced and I think the team know that as well, so it will just be about step-by-steps and start from the beginning, know my team, know how everyone works and then understand the car and then just see.

"Just treat every weekend race-by-race really and if we start picking up results towards the end that's obviously great but that's not really the focus at the minute."