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Gasly ‘ready to grab every opportunity’ after brilliant fifth in Imola qualifying

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IMOLA, ITALY - APRIL 17: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda

The AlphaTauri AT02 has looked mighty around the sweeping turns of Imola through practice and Pierre Gasly made the most of it when it came to qualifying, the Frenchman snatching fifth on the grid to put himself in with an outside chance of a podium at the Italian team’s home race…

AlphaTauri know Imola well, with their Faenza factory based just 15km down the road, but suffered early pain when Yuki Tsunoda crashed out of qualifying in the opening session. Gasly made life tricky for himself, having a couple of laps deleted for exceeding track limits, but didn’t let the pressure get to him and sealed fifth on the grid for the second race in succession.

READ MORE: Tsunoda apologises for ‘huge mistake’ after crashing out in opening minutes of qualifying in Imola

“It was very, very good,” said Gasly. “I’m really happy because the whole qualifying session was a bit harder than in Bahrain. Alpine, Aston Martin and McLaren picked up the pace.

“We looked to be a bit slower than the McLaren and just managed to put the lap together. It was a really clean lap to get that P5. The gaps were extremely close. We are a couple of hundredths behind Charles in the Ferrari and three/four tenths from the top guys. It’s a great achievement and we’re in a good position for tomorrow.”

If the guys in front want to battle it out and make a bit of space for us, that will be more than welcome

Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri driver

McLaren had looked strong early in qualifying, especially through Lando Norris, but the Briton had his best time deleted for exceeding track limits, which dropped him from second to seventh, while Daniel Ricciardo couldn’t improve enough to beat Gasly, who said the Woking team's performance was a surprise.

“Yeah, definitely,” said Gasly. “Looking at the GPS, they were able to carry some speed in medium speed corners which was pretty impressive. I think in Q3, they probably didn’t put it all together. We managed to take advantage of that. Now we have to keep them behind tomorrow.”

READ MORE: Hamilton takes 99th pole in Imola as Perez seals first front row start ahead of Verstappen

Does he dare dream of a first podium since his shock maiden victory in Monza last year? “We will prepare for everything,” he added. “If the guys in front want to battle it out and make a bit of space for us, that will be more than welcome.

“But we need to be prepared for all kind of conditions. There might be a bit of rain, there might be a bit of drama. There might be a lot of things [but] that’s racing. Our job is to be ready to grab every opportunity.”

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