Pierre Gasly was happy to salvage a last-gasp point from a Portuguese Grand Prix he knew would not suit AlphaTauri.
The Portimao circuit did not play to the strengths of Gasly’s team, who are more effective on low-downforce tracks such as Monza where the Frenchman gained a memorable win last year.
Therefore, the next few races are unlikely to be AlphaTauri’s best ones either, starting with the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona.
But nevertheless, Gasly was pleased to get past Carlos Sainz, whose Ferrari was struggling on a worn set of medium tyres, near the end in Portimao to finish 10th.
“It was a difficult race for us, as we expected,” Gasly told reporters afterwards. “We knew it would be a quite intense battle.
“I was happy at the start to be able to keep up the pace with Charles [Leclerc], Esteban [Ocon] and the cars around us, but we just lacked pace on this track.
“It was hard. In the end, I know it was only a point but still happy to get it and pass Carlos at the end to make it into the top 10. Clearly not a track that suited our car.”
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) May 2, 2021
Asked whether the performance was down to the nature of the circuit or a different issue, Gasly said: “I think it was track-specific.
“We knew it would be difficult, we tried a lot of things over the weekend, tried to get the car working, but nothing really worked.
“I think it just proved there are areas we need to improve, which we had spotted at the start of the year, but now we need to see what we can put in place to improve our performance on this kind of track because Monaco will be low-speed corners, Baku as well and many other tracks during the season.
“So a bit of work to do for us.”
Gasly’s team-mate Yuki Tsunoda finished 15th, one place lower than he started, as he again could not repeat the initial abundant promise of his points-scoring debut in Bahrain.
“It was really tough. I don’t know what happened but there was just no pace at all in my car,” said the Japanese driver.
“I was struggling the whole race with strange car balance, it was really hard to drive. We’ll have to analyse the data to make it far better in Barcelona.”