Gasly explains turnaround from miserable qualifying after racing from last place to points on Alpine debut
Pierre Gasly marked his Alpine debut by coming from the back of the grid to finish in the points, and the delighted French driver believes his new squad have a good foundation to build on as they look to challenge the top four teams.
A poor qualifying on Saturday saw Gasly start Sunday’s season opener in 20th. But he made steady progress throughout the race and by Lap 16 was up in 12th place, before gaining a further position after Zhou Guanyu came into the pit lane.
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Gasly then pitted for the soft tyre under the Virtual Safety Car – caused by Charles Leclerc stopping on track – giving him the chance to overtake Alex Albon for ninth place at the restart.
But despite his best efforts in the closing stages, he was forced to settle for P9, after being unable to catch Alfa Romeo's Valtteri Bottas for eighth.
After the race, the former Red Bull Academy product was asked whether he thought points where possible before getting into the cockpit given he was starting dead last, to which he replied: “I did say that I was going to go for the points, but we knew it would be a difficult task.
“I must say I am extremely pleased to finish that first race for Alpine in the points, especially starting from where we were yesterday. It was an off day, and things didn’t come together, but I was confident in our race car and [it's a] really positive race.”
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Alpine finished fourth in the 2022 constructors’ standings, but with Aston Martin now vaulting themselves up on to the podium in Bahrain, Gasly knows his new team have their work cut out for them if they are to compete with the those ahead – although he says they have a “good base” to start from.
“Starting from where we were, [I] don’t think there was more to get from it,” said the former Toro Rosso and AlphaTauri driver. “Starting in [20th], P8 was in [contention].
“We need to work. I must say the top four, now that Aston is able to finish on the podium, we’ve got the big three also, but I think we’ve got a really good base.
“[I] lost a lot of time in the traffic at the start of the race, so starting in the right position should give us definitely more chances, and I am definitely optimistic for the coming races,” he concluded.