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‘It was a tough day’ – Gasly reflects on 'frustrating' incident-filled Friday in Baku

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BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 28: Pierre Gasly of France and Alpine F1 leaves his car after it caught

It was a Friday to forget in Baku for Pierre Gasly, after the French racer’s qualifying ended with him in the barrier in Q1. And while he was frustrated with the outcome, he was setting his sights on pulling off "a good surprise" over the coming two days of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend – featuring the refreshed F1 Sprint format.

Gasly’s Friday started in excruciating fashion when in the early stages of the lone practice session of the weekend, the rear of his Alpine caught on fire due to a hydraulics issue, forcing him to stop on track.

WATCH: Nyck de Vries and Pierre Gasly crash out of Azerbaijan Grand Prix qualifying

After changes to the gearbox and power unit, the Alpine mechanics fixed the A523 machine with moments to spare before qualifying. But it counted for little, as Gasly’s Friday went from bad to worse when he crashed into the barrier at Turn 3 midway through Q1.

Reflecting on his Friday after jumping out of the cockpit, Gasly said: “Obviously very disappointed. It was a pretty tough day, a pretty tough Friday overall for us as a team.

"FP1 didn’t go as planned with a hydraulic issue in the first 20 minutes, and the boys did an incredible job to repair the car, literally a minute before the qualifying.

2023 Azerbaijan GP Qualifying: Gasly brings out second red flag in Q1 after Turn 3 crash

“And then after it was tricky, with such few laps, and coming into Turn 3, I didn’t brake so late, but didn’t brake hard enough. Thought I could make the corner and unfortunately just understeered, and put it into the wall.”

He added: “Pretty frustrating, but thanks to the new [Sprint weekend] format at least we can put this behind us for tomorrow and refresh with the Sprint tomorrow. But a pretty frustrating day.”

READ MORE: Leclerc beats Verstappen in qualifying thriller for third straight Azerbaijan GP pole

Alpine were one of a number of teams to bring upgrades to their car this weekend, and when quizzed on whether he could feel any improvement in the performance of the A523 despite limited running on Friday, Gasly replied: “Honestly, no.

“The reality is that this morning I think I did one lap in [the 1m 46s], and the pace in quali was [1m 41s], so it was the first 10 minutes, and then in quali with the red flag I was going to do a decent lap time on that second push.

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN - APRIL 28: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Alpine F1 A523 Renault on

Alpine have brought upgrades to their car this weekend

“All in all, there is quite a lot to work on for tomorrow. Still another day, [the] race is long on Sunday. With the Sprint we know everything can happen, and we will go for it tomorrow.”

With its long straights, the Baku City Circuit offers drivers an opportunity to overtake, and Gasly said that was something he and his team would be using as a positive going into the rest of the weekend.

FACTS AND STATS: A first front row in Baku for Verstappen but the wait for a Red Bull pole here continues

“We have got to look at some positives where we can find some,” said Gasly, who finished third in Baku in 2021. “But I think generally, it has been challenging for us as a team. We score the points only tomorrow afternoon and on Sunday.

“So, we will give our best shot and... we can overtake, so we will have to use these opportunities and hopefully we can be a good surprise on Sunday, and also tomorrow,” he concluded.

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