RACE DEBRIEF

    Pierre Gasly was one of the stars of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, demonstrating enough pace to make it through Q2 on medium tyres before taking P5 on the grid. But his race was effectively over by Lap 4, after contact with McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo that took the AlphaTauri driver out of the running.

    Gasly had done a fine job to maintain P5 as the race in Bahrain got under way, withholding the attack of the two McLarens of Ricciardo and Lando Norris behind despite starting on the tough-to-switch-on medium tyres.

    Following a Lap 1 Safety Car though, when the race restarted on Lap 4, Gasly wasn’t so lucky, with Norris finding a way past around the outside of Turn 4 – while as Ricciardo followed his team mate through, he and Gasly made contact. Ricciardo suffered floor damage, but it was Gasly who came off worse, losing his front wing, while the resultant pit stop dropped him out of contention.

    READ MORE: McLaren reveal floor damage from Lap 4 contact with Gasly slowed Ricciardo in Bahrain

    “Obviously I’m very disappointed right now,” said Gasly, who was eventually retired from 16th place with a suspected gearbox issue a few laps from the race end. “We had a very strong weekend since we arrived and starting P5, I was hoping for some good points today, and then it was pretty much over after the contact with Daniel.

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    Gasly's race was ruined by his Lap 4 contact

    “I need to review the footage to know whether I just braked too late, or exactly what happened. But then the race was pretty much over. I broke the front wing, I had floor damage and I was a minute behind after one [racing] lap, so that was very disappointing.

    “But I think there are still quite a lot of positives to take away from this weekend and that’s what we’ll look at for Imola,” Gasly added.

    READ MORE: 6 Winners and 6 Losers from the 2021 Bahrain GP – Who started their season in style?

    Gasly’s team boss Franz Tost commiserated with his driver, while questioning whether AlphaTauri’s decision to start the Frenchman on the mediums had ultimately been a mistake.

    “Maybe the softer compound would have prevented the accident, as the grip on the mediums after the Safety Car was quite low,” said Tost. “From then onwards, Pierre’s race was compromised as he also had damage to the floor, which meant quite a big loss of performance.

    Pierre Gasly: 'Race was over' after Ricciardo contact at Bahrain GP

    “Nevertheless, in his last stint he showed some fantastic lap times and was really one of the fastest out there… At the end, he couldn’t score any points, but he did a fantastic job in qualifying yesterday and he showed the race pace was there today – he was just unlucky.”

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    AlphaTauri wound up with just rookie driver Yuki Tsunoda’s two points for P9 to show for their strong performances in both practice and qualifying in Bahrain. But Tost added that he’d been encouraged by the pace he’d seen from the team so far, as Formula 1 now prepares to race at AlphaTauri’s home track at Imola.

    “Even if I expected a better result this weekend and today we couldn’t get it together in the way we should’ve done, having a really strong package makes us look forward to Imola now,” said Tost.