‘There was clearly a top-five to fight for’, says Gasly after Imola retirement heartbreak
Pierre Gasly’s brilliant performance across the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix weekend was cut cruelly short by a coolant leak that saw him retire from the race on Lap 8 of 63 – with the Frenchman feeling sure that he would have been on for at least a top-five finish at Imola had mechanical gremlins not intervened.
Gasly had been quick out of the blocks at the Imola circuit that lies just 15 kilometres from AlphaTauri’s Faenza factory, taking P4 in the weekend’s only practice session, before repeating the trick to claim a season’s best fourth on the grid in qualifying.
But there were early warning signs of a problem when Gasly’s mechanics were spotted fixing an issue on the grid before the race – while that same issue, which AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost later termed a “radiator failure” – eventually forced him to retire on Lap 8.
“That one is quite hard, especially for our home race here in Imola,” said a despondent Gasly afterwards. “The whole race was going so well until now, so really sad to retire. But the guys spotted a drop of water pressure already on the laps to the grid, so they tried everything on the grid to fix it, and unfortunately it didn’t work out, so we had to retire after a couple of laps.”
Gasly’s fate was all the more cruel given that he was running comfortably in P5 in the early part of the race – having lost a position at the start to eventual podium finisher Daniel Ricciardo, after getting squeezed into Turn 2 on the first lap by Lewis Hamilton – while with Gasly’s team mate Daniil Kvyat ultimately finishing fourth after starting eighth, Gasly felt sure that he could have been in amongst the fight for the final podium position had his car gone the distance.
“I had a great start, my reaction time was very good,” he said. “I tried to go alongside Lewis, but he decided to close quite hard and I had to back out from it, so after that we were running P5.
“The car was so fast all weekend. I felt good behind Daniel, I think we had slightly more pace than them. There was clearly a top five to fight for, and on such a weekend for our home race, it feels quite hard. But that’s motorsport unfortunately.”
Gasly at least had the comfort of putting in a strong performance at Imola on a weekend when, having been confirmed at AlphaTauri for 2021, he’d openly questioned Red Bull’s decision not to consider him for a re-promotion to the top team for next year – with Red Bull’s current driver Alex Albon, who replaced Gasly at the team in 2019, classified last at Imola, having made an unforced error with five laps to go after getting passed by Sergio Perez.