Gasly ‘has good cards to play’ with ‘surprising’ pace

Henry Valantine
Pierre Gasly Azerbaijan GP 2021

Pierre Gasly has spoken of his optimism ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, putting in a sterling qualifying performance to take P4 on the grid.

The AlphaTauri driver caused a shock when he went top of the standings in FP3, and backed up that pace by almost breaking into the top three – just 0.002sec behind Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in Baku.

Charles Leclerc took pole position in a qualifying session interspersed with four red-flag stoppages as drivers crashed out, but Gasly was left wondering if he could have jumped the Dutchman to go ahead of him on the second row.

“It’s been a fantastic day, I must say,” Gasly said to Sky Sports after the session. “I couldn’t really hope for anything better. We were first in FP3, fourth in qualifying and fighting for pole with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull – which is something that has never really happened to us.

“All weekend, surprisingly we have been very, very strong. I felt super-good in the car and managed to really push it to the limit.

“I’m happy, didn’t miss [out by] much to jump Max to be in the top three and you always think ‘could I have been slightly better?’

“But at the end of the day, I think we delivered a very strong qualifying, especially considering we focused a bit more on the race.

“We kept two [fresh sets of] hard tyres for the race, which gave us only four sets of softs for qualy. I think we are in a good position and I’m very excited for tomorrow.”

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Gasly had the better run of things on Saturday within his team, but his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda made it into Q3 for the first time in his rookie career – although his crash at Turn 3 led to the red flag that halted the session in the final part of qualifying. While it prevented Gasly from setting a faster time, Tsunoda’s crash also kept his team-mate in a strong position on the grid – matching his best ever grid slot.

With the Frenchman’s seemingly plentiful strategic options and speed available to him in Azerbaijan, he feels confident his AlphaTauri car could well spring a surprise in the race on Sunday.

“Once it clicks with your driving, I just know exactly what it’s going to do, what I’m going to do to make it work,” he added.

“It responds to what I wanted and what I expect, so it’s just nice to go out there, do my thing and the lap time seems to always be pretty good this weekend.

“P4, we’ve pulled [out] our best qualy with the team and we have good cards to play for tomorrow.”

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