‘I went through all the emotions’ says Gasly after battling drive to P9 in Melbourne
Pierre Gasly hasn’t had too many visits from Lady Luck so far this season, and Australia was no exception when the timing of the first Safety Car saw him drop down the order through no fault of his own. But the Frenchman fought hard to climb back into the points, and was ultimately pleased with his performance.
Melbourne was the first time AlphaTauri didn’t manage to get a car into the top 10 in qualifying this season, Gasly starting from 11th and Yuki Tsunoda 13th as they struggled compared to their midfield rivals, with McLaren jumping up the order.
But Gasly got a great start on the medium compound, picking off Fernando Alonso and Carlos Sainz off the line and from there it looked like points were in the bag. That was until the Safety Car came out a couple of laps after the Frenchman had been into the pits for his one and only stop.
“I had a really good start, managed to pass two cars in the first lap, was running in a good position in P9, boxed and then we got slapped by the Safety Car like in Saudi. Pretty upset – we dropped to P14 – but yes, we stayed focused and managed to finish in P9,” was his assessment.
But even after the Safety Car had come in, it was anything but straightforward for the AlphaTauri driver.
He found himself stuck behind Lance Stroll for a number of laps, the Aston Martin soon building a DRS train behind, which left Gasly vulnerable to the Alfa Romeo of Valtteri Bottas. But with a great last corner exit and decent straight line speed, Gasly was able to finally dive past Stroll into Turn 1 and set up his charge back into the points.
“Clearly, we had to fight hard for it, especially with Lance. I must say I enjoyed the battle, it was the most entertaining moment of the race. I went through all the emotions,” he joked afterwards. “It was pretty intense on a track like this, but in the end, I got the best of him.”
While Gasly can look forward to AlphaTauri’s home race at Imola next time out, having extracted everything from the AT03 that he could despite the team not bringing any upgrades to Melbourne, the same couldn’t be said for Tsunoda.
The Japanese driver was making his debut at Albert Park, but was left frustrated after failing to make the same sort of headway his team mate managed.
“There was no pace in the car, I just really struggled. Obviously, we have to work on what the issue was to avoid for next time,” he said post-race. “Just lacking performance overall; the race I didn’t expect to be that bad – but it is what it is.”