Pierre Gasly pulled off an excellent move at Spa, passing Sergio Perez at Eau Rouge, but he says he expected both to hit the wall.
In a drive that earned the Frenchman Driver of the Day, the undoubted highlight was his overtake on Perez early on.
Running in P10, he got a better exit out of Turn 1 than the Mexican and was carrying more speed as they began to climb the hill side by side.
He moved to the outside and squeezed past Perez, who gave him very little space. So little in fact that at one more point, Gasly didn’t expect them to make it to the other end of Eau Rouge.
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“Honestly, I thought we were in the wall. I’m not kidding!” he told Sky Sports after the race.
“I was inside and I thought ‘I can’t move more than that’, and at that point, we are going 280, 300 km/h. Sergio really squeezed me.
“I thought ‘I’m not going to lift, I’m going to make this work’. It was tight. Sergio is a hard racer, I knew it, but there for sure, my heartbeat went slightly higher. But I was committed and it was a great one.
“You expect respect from everyone, you know where the line is and you should not cross it. It was borderline, but there was space for one car and that was it.”
Shortly afterwards, a Safety Car came out due to DNFs for George Russell and Antonio Giovinazzi. As he started on the hard tyre, Gasly was only one of two drivers, the other being Perez, not to pit under it, costing him a number of positions later in the race.
While he thinks he could have had a top-five finish without it, he’s still happy with his recovery drive to finish P8.
“Before the race, we said a Safety Car in Lap 10 to 20 would be the worst for us because it gives a free pit-stop to the guys on options,” he said.
“But looking back, from where we started I think it was a nice gamble and honestly I think that it worked well.
“Obviously the Safety Car I think cost us probably a top-five [finish] because Ocon in P5 was only six or seven seconds [ahead] and those guys had a free pit-stop.
“The car was great, I felt good, I pushed as hard as I could and it was personally a very important race for me with what happened with Anthoine [Hubert] so today I’m really happy.”