Pierre Gasly has accepted full responsibility for crashing his car in Q1 and ending up 19th on the grid for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The first qualifying segment had only just resumed from a red flag to collect Nyck de Vries’s crashed AlphaTauri car at Turn 3 when Gasly careened into he wall at the same corner, forcing another suspension.
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It was a demoralizing conclusion to a difficult day for the Frenchman, who set only seven laps in first practice before his car set itself alight and forced him to stop on track.
His team worked hard in the break between practice and qualifying to repair the car, including installing a new gearbox and power unit, only to see it shattered in the barriers after just six more laps.
“Obviously very disappointed,” Gasly said. “It was a pretty tough day, a pretty tough Friday overall for us as a team.
“FP1 didn’t go as planned with an hydraulic issue in the first 20 minutes, and the boys did an incredible job to repair the car literally a minute before the qualifying, and then after it was tricky with so few laps.”
Gasly admitted that he’d made a rookie mistake under braking rather than there being any technical problem with the car owing to its rapid rebuild.
“Coming into Turn 3, I didn’t brake so late but didn’t brake hard enough,” he said. “I thought I could make the corner and unfortunately just understeered and put it into the wall.
“Pretty frustrating, but thanks to the new format at least we can put this behind us for tomorrow and refresh with the sprint tomorrow — but a pretty frustrating day.”
The incident not only left the team with another hefty repair job — and Alpine has brought a raft of new parts to the car this weekend — but it’s left him chronically low on mileage at a confidence track ahead of another, shorter qualifying session on Saturday morning followed by the sprint race and then the grand prix on Sunday.
Asked if he had got any sense from the way the car was behaving with his limited track time, Gasly painted a grim picture.
“The reality is that this morning I think I did one lap in [1m] 46s, and the pace in quali was 41s,” he said. “All in all, there is quite a lot to work on for tomorrow.”
Though Friday qualifying evidently arrived too early for Gasly’s liking, he said he could take solace from the fact that Saturday is now a standalone day, which gives him a chance to rebound quickly, and that the Baku circuit will facilitate overtaking on Sunday when he’ll attempt to rise from the back row of the grid.
“We have got to look at some positives where we can find some,” he said. “With the sprint we know everything can happen, and we will go for it tomorrow.
“We score the points only tomorrow afternoon and on Sunday, so we will give our best shot. We can overtake, so we will have to use these opportunities and hopefully we can be a good surprise on Sunday and also tomorrow.”