Gasly explains why he’s expecting Zandvoort to suit him ahead of F1’s return to the Dutch track
Pierre Gasly has been one of F1’s strongest qualifiers in 2021, and the Frenchman was hoping that Saturday form would put him in good shape for this weekend, as the Dutch Grand Prix returns on the tight, twisting Zandvoort circuit – with Gasly comparing the beachside circuit to Monte Carlo.
Gasly has made Q3 at 10 out of 12 rounds so far this season, with a best qualifying of fourth in Baku. And as Formula 1 prepares to race at Zandvoort for the first time since 1985, the AlphaTauri driver was aiming to put that qualifying prowess to good use, predicting that overtaking in Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix could be "particularly complicated".
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“It’s going to be an interesting weekend,” said Gasly, who qualified and finished sixth at Spa last weekend, “a replay of Monaco in some respects, as the straights are very short and the track itself is very narrow, so overtaking will be particularly complicated. That means qualifying will be especially important and, as we seem to perform quite well in that respect, it could turn out to be a good thing for us.
“Another factor is that being by the sea, we can expect to find a dusty track surface on Friday, with sand blowing onto the asphalt, so conditions will evolve over the weekend.”
Gasly at least has the advantage of previous experience at the track – albeit before modifications were made to accommodate modern Formula 1 cars – as he added: “I raced there in 2012 in Formula Renault 2.0, so quite a long time ago! The track layout has changed a lot since then and I’ve experienced it on the simulator.
“I think the whole weekend should be an amazing experience, being the first Dutch Grand Prix since Max [Verstappen] has been in Formula 1.”
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Experience at the track is not something Gasly’s team mate Yuki Tsunoda can boast, with Tsunoda looking forward to completing a track walk on Thursday at Zandvoort to better understand the circuit.
“I have never driven at Zandvoort, in any category,” said Tsunoda. “Since they have modified the track layout, it should be a new experience for all the drivers, not just the rookies like me. It looks unusual from the simulator, with a lot of banking which is quite steep and that will need good skills to maximise in terms of carrying speed into the next part of the track.
“I think I am quite good at adapting reasonably quickly to a track I have never seen before,” he added. “But I must make sure I don’t lose any track time through mistakes, because it will be important to learn as much as possible in free practice.
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“Also, in Zandvoort, the track walk will be even more useful than usual, because the simulator cannot give you a complete picture of what a new circuit is like. The simulator helps but the walk gives you a full picture.”
AlphaTauri’s drivers will be looking to extend their squad’s impressive points streak further this weekend at the Dutch Grand Prix, the Italian team the only one with a 100% record of scoring points in Grands Prix this season.