Gasly excited by race 'opportunities' after equalling Toro Rosso's best grid slot of 2019
A wolfish Pierre Gasly was licking his lips at the prospect of starting the Brazilian Grand Prix in sixth place, after his strongest qualifying performance since his return to the Toro Rosso squad back in August, and the Italian team's joint-best grid slot of the season.
Gasly shrugged off Toro Rosso’s double power unit failure in Free Practice 2 at Interlagos to make it through to Q3 in qualifying, before impressing to pip the rapid-looking Haas of Romain Grosjean to P7 by 0.017s, and claim the all-important ‘best of the rest’ honours.
And with that P7 set to become P6 on the grid for Sunday’s race when Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc takes his 10-place grid drop, Gasly was clearly excited about his race-day prospects.
I just feel we have a good opportunity, so we’ll try to maximise it
“There will be a lot of opportunities,” he said after qualifying. “Honestly, I’m so happy to get the best qualifying of the season with Toro Rosso. Starting sixth tomorrow I think is probably my second-best qualifying with the team, so just super-pleased with the job we’ve been doing with the car.
“I haven’t driven much in the long runs with the problem we had [in FP2],” Gasly added, when asked what he thought he could achieve in the race, “but I felt good in the car. I’ll find out tomorrow, but I just feel we have a good opportunity, so we’ll try to maximise it.”
Over in the sister Toro Rosso, things were less sunny, with Daniil Kvyat – who also suffered an FP2 failure when his STR14 switched itself off going through Turn 12, sending him spinning into the wall – failing to make it out of Q1 for the seventh time in 13 races, with the Russian set to start in 16th place on Sunday.
“Over-pushing too much,” was Kvyat’s explanation for his lack of pace. “I made a couple of mistakes, and then I had a bit of a lack of straight-line speed. I don’t know why yet. Here and there, a bit of everything, and then you’re out of Q1… I just pushed too hard [on my flying lap], got a bit of kerb, lost the rhythm in the lap and then basically, it’s a snowball effect so I lost all the rhythm there.”
Gasly’s qualifying performance, meanwhile, marked the fourth time in as many races that he’s made it into Q3, making him the only driver outside of Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes to be on such a streak. And after a tough start to 2019 with Red Bull, the Frenchman, it seems, is flourishing now that he's back at Toro Rosso.