It was simply not meant to be for AlphaTauri in Mexico, despite strong recovery drives from both Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly from lowly starting grid slots. Both challenged for the points on differing strategies, but Gasly couldn’t quite make it into the top 10 by the chequered flag while Tsunoda was forced to retire with damage after a clash with Daniel Ricciardo.
The Japanese racer had started on the soft compound tyre and managed to avoid the unfavoured hard rubber, and was running 11th on the medium compound when a soft-shod Daniel Ricciardo started to come into view. The Australian tried a move into Turn 1, stayed on the tail of the AlphaTauri before trying to nip down the inside into Turn 7, where they made contact.
The resultant collision sent the AlphaTauri bouncing up and over the wheel of the McLaren, with suspension damage the cause of Tsunoda’s immediate retirement after limping back to the pits.
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“I’m very disappointed that [the race] ended with such a silly mistake,” he said afterwards.
“Daniel was on a different strategy and would’ve easily made it past later on, so for such an experienced driver to try to overtake in an area that it’s just not possible to is so annoying. We were close to being able to finish in the points, which are so valuable to us right now.”
Ricciardo was deemed to be at blame for the incident and awarded a ten second time penalty by the stewards – although it didn’t derail his race as he was able to climb up to seventh on the soft compound tyre.
That was the same strategy Gasly was on, and he too was making progress – although he ran out of time to pick off Valtteri Bottas for P10.
“I gave everything I could today, and we were close to finishing in the top 10, if we’d had one more lap I think we could’ve been in it,” said the Frenchman. “The atmosphere has been insane, as always in Mexico, so that’s been great, I’m just disappointed we’ve come away without points.”
The positives for the team were their competitive race pace, which was in direct contrast to their one-lap pace from Saturday. That, and the fact that Gasly was able to go wheel to wheel with the Aston Martin of Lance Stroll, a car that has been very competitive of late. Those two slugged it out for a number of corners, giving the crowd something to cheer and certainly showing Gasly’s racing chops.
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The final positive from a disappointing day was the fact that Haas, their rivals for P8 in the constructors’ championship, also failed to score – meaning there is still just one point between the two teams heading to Brazil.