RACE DEBRIEF

    After finishing in P4 for the sole Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend practice session, Pierre Gasly declared that his target was to try and maintain that position for qualifying. And the Frenchman duly delivered, taking fourth on the grid at Imola to equal his best ever qualifying in F1.

    Gasly looked strong throughout qualifying, finishing in the top five in the first two segments, before eventually pipping the Renault of Daniel Ricciardo to P4 in Q3 – with Gasly only around three-tenths adrift of Max Verstappen, and two places up on the second Red Bull of Alex Albon, as the Frenchman matched his best qualifying from the 2019 German Grand Prix.

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    And Gasly was quick to dedicate his fine performance to his childhood hero Ayrton Senna, who lost his life at the track in 1994, and whose helmet colours Gasly is sporting this weekend.

    “For me it’s a great day,” said Gasly, “I did my best qualifying for the team, P4 I think was also my best in Red Bull, so it’s my best ever in Formula 1, and to do it in Imola, is also very special.

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    Gasly is wearing a special Ayrton Senna tribute helmet this weekend

    “Obviously for me, I did this special helmet for Ayrton because I’ve always been a big, big fan of Senna since I was a kid. He was one of my idols, and it was important for me to do it here, but also for all the team, because they are only 15 kilometres from this track. So it’s a great start to the weekend.”

    READ MORE: Gasly reveals Senna tribute helmet ahead of F1’s Imola return

    Asked about his prosects for Sunday’s race, meanwhile, Gasly singled out Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in P7 and Ricciardo in P5 as his key rivals, saying: “It’s so tight in the midfield – I think from P4 to P10 is like three, four-tenths, so it will be important to keep to position at the start.

    “I expect a tough battle with Daniel with Charles and all the other guys. But I think we are in a good position; P4 is probably the best position we can start from so we need to keep it and try to get as many points as we can.”

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    Gasly equalled his best F1 qualifying

    Gasly’s team mate Daniil Kvyat, meanwhile, completed a storming day for AlphaTauri by taking P8 on the grid, as the Russian marked his first Q3 appearance in 2020. And Gasly said that a filming day undertaken by AlphaTauri at the track in June – during which both he and Kvyat drove their current AT01 car, as well as an older Toro Rosso STR13 – may have helped AlphaTauri start on the front foot this weekend.

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    “I think for sure it helped us in the way just to have a feel with the track,” said Gasly. “This is a very difficult track. You need to run over the kerbs a lot, but you need to really get the feeling with the car to extract everything.

    “Obviously it was not a car that was set up for performance [on the filming day], so we were a lot slower than that, and it was only 15 laps. But we take everything we can and I think, for sure, it was a good decision to come here to do the shakedown.”