RACE DEBRIEF

    Pierre Gasly’s had some starring drives in 2020. But his performance at the Sakhir Grand Prix was not one of them, the Frenchman sliding from ninth on the grid to 11th at the flag, with Gasly left frustrated after a long evening of fighting with his uncooperative AlphaTauri AT01.

    The omens for Gasly had initially looked good, as he went third-fastest in Free Practice 3, before ending up a disappointed P9 on the grid, three places down on team mate Daniil Kvyat.

    Things would only get worse in the race, though, with Gasly struggling with his car balance, as well as getting caught out by the timing of the Lap 55 Virtual Safety Car, leaving him to come home out of the points in 11th – and perplexed at how he’d not even finished close to a podium that had featured two Racing Points and a Renault.

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    “Very difficult,” said Gasly after the race. “A mix of things. First we didn’t have the pace… At the start, we were in the mix with the midfield, around seventh or eighth position. But I just struggled with the car, just could not drive it the way I wanted. I really struggled with the rear axle, front axle and struggled to really achieve what I wanted.

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    Gasly said he'd felt like a "spectator", as drivers such as Esteban Ocon finished on the podium

    “Then after that, I got pretty unlucky with the timing of the Virtual Safety Car. But it’s just a shame, because when we look at top three, top five, there were big opportunities and we were more like spectators of the show than actors.”

    As if to add insult to injury – or rather injury to insult – Gasly was struck by a stone on the formation lap, on the very same finger that had been hit by gravel in Free Practice 2. But the Frenchman said he was more concerned by AlphaTauri’s poor performance than his damaged digit, as he targeted a return to his impressive 2020 form at the Abu Dhabi season finale.

    READ MORE: ‘I drove a perfect race', says Kvyat after P7 in Sakhir Grand Prix

    “[I was hit] on the formation lap, same finger, same spot,” said Gasly. “But honestly it was fine – I don’t care so much about my fingers, just disappointed with my pace. Honestly, we missed some big points today. It was a shame and we need to review and just have a strong last one.

    “[Yas Marina] is a very different track. This one [in Bahrain] is quite unique, only four corners and quite a particular layout. Abu Dhabi’s going to be back to a bit more standard – but we need to finish on a high this season.”

    Pierre Gasly 'struggled with the car' in Sakhir GP