Putting in another top-five qualifying performance, Pierre Gasly feels AlphaTauri can fight “Ferrari and McLaren” at Imola.
Continuing with AlphaTauri after Red Bull decided not to promote him, Gasly is proving to be one of the stars of this year’s championship – at least when it comes to qualifying.
P5 on the Bahrain Grand Prix grid, he followed that up with another P5 starting position, this time for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
But while his Bahrain outing was ruined by early contact with Daniel Ricciardo, this time around the Frenchman is hoping to take the fight to Ferrari and McLaren but without trading paint.
“I can push really hard and we can be right in the mix with a Ferrari and McLaren,” he told reporters at Imola. “I’m looking forward to the battle.”
While AT technical director Jody Egginton would not give up the goods regarding the team’s strategy for Sunday, he did say they’d be going “aggressive” with both Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda.
The latter is starting from the back of the grid after crashing at the start of Q1.
“We’re still crunching the numbers at the moment but we might have to be creative here in terms of what we’re going to do,” Egginton told Motorsport.com.
“In both cases, we want to be aggressive with both drivers. We don’t want to be settling for anything less than we think we can do.
“At the minute, I wouldn’t go as far as to say what we’re thinking of. But we’ll be aggressive with both of them.”
5th in qualifying again. Italy treats us well.😁 Very happy with the lap, managed to put it all together in Q3. Car felt great, less than 0.4 from pole, great progress team. Excited for tomorrow!!💪🏼 @AlphaTauriF1 pic.twitter.com/nBrbx06vHa
— PIERRE GASLY 🇫🇷 (@PierreGASLY) April 17, 2021
Gasly’s lap time in qualifying was a mere 0.379s down on pole sitter Lewis Hamilton with the 2020 Italian Grand Prix winner lining up behind Charles Leclerc and ahead of Ricciardo and Lando Norris.
He reckons it is the closest he has ever been to pole position in terms of lap time.
“We finished [with a] super super close margin with the Ferrari ahead,” he said. “I think only three or four tenths from the pole position, a bit more than four tenths.
“I don’t think we have ever been that close from the top. The team can be really pleased with that and with the progress we are making.
“I think I managed to do a very very strong lap in Q3. [I was] putting it all together and was really on the edge everywhere, so I was really pleased with that performance.
“Especially looking at the performance of the McLaren. We were quite impressed after Q1 and Q2 and [we] managed to beat them, and to be only a couple of hundreths behind the Ferrari was a great achievement.”