'I’m really surprised to be there' says Gasly after outqualifying both McLarens and a Ferrari in France
Pierre Gasly put himself under pressure to deliver in French Grand Prix qualifying after his first run in Q3 was deleted for exceeding track limits, but he produced the goods when it mattered to take what he described as a "surprising" sixth on the grid in front of his home fans.
The Frenchman had struggled to get to grips with his AlphaTauri through practice, which saw very windy conditions, but changes ahead of qualifying gave him a different feel and he was able to qualify inside the top six for the fifth time in six races.
“I’m really surprised to be there,” said Gasly, who scored a podium last time out in Baku, of his sixth position. “I struggled a bit all weekend with the car. I didn’t feel so comfortable, been changing the balance with the wind conditions.
“The track layout is quite different than what we experienced in the last few weekends. It was quite difficult, we tried to improve but we didn’t find the right thing but in qualifying we made a couple of changes. I felt like this really went in the right direction and helped us.
“It’s a really positive to split the two Ferraris and also outqualify the McLarens. This was quite intense as well. I was relieved in Q3 – the first lap time was deleted, which we still need to check. It’s arguable, but just increasing the pressure and adrenaline for the second attempt, and I was just really happy to put a lap together (second time around).”
Like all those in the top 10, he’ll start the race on the medium tyre – the preferred compound of choice given the soft wasn’t expected to last long enough to make a one-stop work in the race – and that gives him confidence for the race.
“I hope so,” he said of being able to hold onto that position. “We know it’s a difficult track for the tyres. We were not sure if we could go through with the medium after P3, so this was really positive.
“Now we are all on the same strategy I guess. We will have to see what we can do from there but I feel the car, we made a good improvement for quali so hopefully it’s going to be a good improvement for the race pace for tomorrow, compared to what we showed in FP2. I’m excited.”
He’ll start Sunday’s race behind Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and one place clear of the other red car of Charles Leclerc.