Pierre Gasly spoke of a “special” feeling throughout the AlphaTauri team as he stormed to P4 at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Turning the grid position where he qualified into the same race result, Gasly secured his 10th points finish of the 2021 campaign, matching his tally for the whole of last season.
And right now all parts of the team are riding high, whether it be the AT02 or the crew themselves.
“I’m really happy for all the team and also for myself because P4, right behind the two Mercedes and Max [Verstappen], is pretty much the best we can hope,” he told Sky F1.
“We did a fantastic job all weekend, the car was really strong. I’ve enjoyed [it] a lot because when the car is flying like that it is always something special and really enjoyable.
“The car seems to work everywhere in all conditions – dry, wet and there is a really good mojo in all the team, mentality, attitude.
“And even the energy because we are fighting with Alpine and it’s probably the best season the team has ever had, so they are really pushing hard and it’s really enjoyable.”
When called into action on race day, Gasly was not afraid to try the spectacular, pulling off an overtake on Alpine’s Fernando Alonso around the outside of Turn 1.
Knowing opportunities to pass would be limited, Gasly said he relied on the element of surprise.
“It was really nice. The lap before, I saw I was much faster than him in Turn 1,” Gasly explained.
“And I wanted to surprise him because I knew there would not be many chances to pass him.”
Ultimately, Gasly showed the pace to comfortably keep Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc at bay, with the Monegasque driver slightly disappointed to cross the line P5 after offering little challenge to Gasly.
And while maintaining track position over Ferrari was not exactly a surprise, Gasly was perhaps not expecting to have pulled away like he did.
“We knew it would be possible because it’s extremely difficult to overtake here,” he said when asked if containing Ferrari had seemed realistic to him.
“But we probably didn’t expect to have the pace to open the gap and manage the gap as we did.
“I think in some parts of the race we were clearly faster than them, and we expected them to put slightly more pressure [on us].
“A lot of positives to take from this weekend and it’s really good going into Monza next weekend with this strong result.”
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) September 5, 2021
Monza is a track Gasly holds very fond memories of, having claimed a shock victory there in 2020.
He is itching to taste champagne again and with the AT02 now performing on all tracks and through various conditions, Monza represents a chance to quench his thirst.
“It seems like the car is working everywhere, so clearly fighting for points all the time,” he said.
“If we can finish ahead of the McLaren and the Ferrari again many times, this I don’t know, but on certain tracks clearly we have our chances.
“It’s been a year since the win, so there have been some really good races, another podium in Baku this year, and I kind of hoped maybe something happened at the front today so I could get that champagne taste again.
“But not for today – we still have eight or nine races, so we will try to make that happen.”
The Dutch Grand Prix sadly came to a frustrating end for Gasly’s team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, so now the Japanese racer will look to move on from this disappointment and bounce back at Monza.
“I had an issue we found and it was not acceptable, so we had to retire,” he confirmed to reporters.
“The race was okay. It was hard to overtake, the pace was there and the time I had the issue was when I started to push a little bit more to catch the car in front.
“The tyre life was quite good, but we found an issue and we had to stop.
“I’m looking forward to Monza. I have experience this time, so I will just do the same thing as this week, build up the pace.
“Hopefully this time we can put it all together.”