Pierre Gasly frustrated by qualifying crash after repairs with ‘literally a minute’ to spare

Henry Valantine
Alpine driver Pierre Gasly at the side of the track after going out of FP1. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Alpine driver Pierre Gasly looking frustrated.

Pierre Gasly admitted his day was a “pretty tough” one, after a fire in free practice was followed by a crash in qualifying.

The Alpine driver had to escape from his car after only a few minutes of the only practice session around Baku, a hydraulic issue causing a fire that prompted a full power unit change.

Gasly’s mechanics worked flat out in between practice and qualifying to change every power unit component on his A523, the Frenchman thanking his team over the radio as he exited the pit lane.

He said the timings were tight for him to get out on track at all, but it all went wrong halfway through the session when the Alpine driver piled into the wall at Turn 3, locking up under braking and prompting the second red flag of the session, after Nyck de Vries had a similar incident earlier in Q1.

With such little track time under his belt, the 27-year-old was understandably frustrated going into the weekend.

“Well, obviously very disappointed, it was a pretty tough day,” Gasly said to F1 TV after qualifying.

“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 just literally a minute before the qualifying, and then after it was tricky with such a few laps.

“Coming into Turn 3, didn’t brake so late, but didn’t brake hard enough and thought I could make the corner, and unfortunately just understeered and put it into the wall. So pretty frustrating.

“Thanks to the new format at least we can put this behind us for tomorrow and refresh with a sprint tomorrow.”

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Alpine arrived in Baku with multiple updates brought to the car, including an upgraded floor as the team look to reel in the top four teams in terms of outright pace.

The last round in Melbourne was their most competitive of the season so far, but Gasly admitted that he has not been able to work out whether or not the additions to his car have yet had the desired effect, with his running having been curbed so far.

“Honestly, no,” Gasly responded when asked if he could get a feel for the new upgrades with such limited running.

“The reality is that this morning I did one lap in [one minute] 46, and the pace in quali was [one minute] 41.

“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 but, all in all, there’s 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 then we’ll go for it tomorrow.”