Pierre Gasly had high hopes for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, although scrapping with Lewis Hamilton meant it exceeded expectations.
Gasly had been waiting for the spark to truly ignite his 2022 campaign and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix provided exactly that.
And when AlphaTauri did not ‘pit’ Gasly nor Yuki Tsunoda under the Virtual Safety Car, due to them not having another set of hard tyres, Gasly found himself running P4 as he tried to cling on to that position.
Ultimately, Hamilton’s fresher tyres did the business as he made the pass but P5 for Gasly was nonetheless a very satisfying result, the Frenchman improving to P10 in the Drivers’ Championship.
Gasly explained AlphaTauri had gone into the race confident, that coming from their performance level last time out in Monaco, but to be in an exciting battle with Hamilton for much of the race was certainly a welcome surprise.
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“We knew we would get a chance to do well after seeing our pace in Monaco,” Gasly told Sky Sports F1. “To be fighting with Lewis probably not, so I would say it was slightly better than we expected.
“I’m really pleased because we did no mistakes all weekend. We showed really good speed in practice, we managed to translate it into a good qualifying position. And today was good.
“I had Lewis behind for quite a few laps and we knew with our strategy, with only one set of hard tyres, if there would be a Safety Car in the last 20 laps wouldn’t it be great for us? And fortunately this is what happens.
“After Lewis was just melting on me pretty fast I tried to defend the best I could, but didn’t manage to keep him behind.
“But to take P5 after the start of the year, we are extremely happy with that.”
Tsunoda felt P6 had been very much on the cards, but his race unravelled when half of the DRS flap on his rear wing broke.
He was shown the black and orange flag, which meant AlphaTauri had to ‘pit’ him.
They taped it up and sent him back onto the track, but his race was wrecked. It was P13 in the end for a disappointed Tsunoda.
“Until the issue, it was a good race, felt in control, the tyres good,” he told media personnel after the race.
“Just a shame for the reliability issue – if I didn’t have those things it was easily able to be P6, so a shame.”