Gasly hails ‘best Friday of the season’ after finishing P2 in both Friday practice sessions in Qatar
Pierre Gasly was left hailing his best Friday of 2021 after the opening day’s running at the Qatar Grand Prix – and with good reason, given the Frenchman finished P2 in both of the day’s practice sessions, on Formula 1’s first ever visit to the Losail International Circuit.
A late effort from Gasly in Free Practice 1 saw the AlphaTauri driver wind up second in the session, albeit 0.437s adrift of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. But Gasly proved the result wasn’t a fluke by taking P2 again in FP2, this time just 0.209s off Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, leaving the Frenchman pleased with his day’s work in Losail.
“It’s been great,” enthused Gasly, “P2 in both sessions, it’s been a very good Friday, the best of the season so far, so it felt great.
“Actually inside the car, it’s not that easy in these conditions, so I can’t tell if it feels like we’re flying, but the lap time is really good so that’s a positive. But still, I think in terms of balance, we can do even better for tomorrow, so we’ll try and work on that.”
Those P2 placings – on a day when Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton couldn’t finish higher than P4 – naturally got people asking whether Gasly might be in and around the fight for pole position on Saturday.
But the AlphaTauri driver said he was more concerned with his team’s battle for P5 with Alpine in the constructors’ standings, with those two squads drawn on 112 points with three races left to run in 2021.
“Let’s be objective,” said Gasly, “we know that Red Bull and Mercedes always pick up the pace massively on Saturday and Sunday. They are clearly not the target. We’ll obviously do the best we can, and if we can be in front of them, that will be obviously very pleasant.
“But the main target for us is Alpine. We’ll try and fight with the McLarens and the Ferraris, but so far we look very competitive, and I’m excited to see what we can do tomorrow.”
Gasly’s team mate Yuki Tsunoda backed up his AlphaTauri’s pace by going fifth fastest in FP1 and seventh quickest in FP2 – with Tsunoda hoping to carry that form into qualifying, after predicting that overtaking could be tricky in Sunday’s first ever Grand Prix in Qatar.
“Tomorrow, it’s going to be key,” said Tsunoda. “I think [in the race] overtaking is going to be a bit difficult, so qualifying’s going to be important. We just need to nail it in the qualifying to start with as high a position as much as possible to score points. But I think we have good confidence for [qualifying] and we just have to analyse the data from today.”