Pierre Gasly admitted he was baffled by the lack of pace he had during Saturday’s Feature race at the Sepang International Circuit as the Red Bull Junior driver failed to score a point after finishing eleventh and lost the championship lead in the process to team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi.
The Prema Racing driver had started on pole position but made a dreadful getaway as the anti-stall system kicked in, and thereafter was unable to make much of an impact on the race as he struggled on both compounds of tyre.
“It’s been a very difficult day,” said Gasly on Saturday. “I got a good first launch but the anti-stall came in so I had to pull the clutch again and I lost quite a lot of places before turn 1.
“After that I just didn’t have any feeling with the car. It was very difficult to drive with the mediums. I thought that it was going to be better with the primes after the pit-stop but it was the same, no grip at all and I just could not be fast or match the pace of the others.
“We have to understand and analyse what exactly happened. We had been fast for the whole weekend and then suddenly we became slow in this race.”
Another bad start affected Gasly during Sunday’s Sprint race, but unlike in the Feature race, the Frenchman had good pace, and was able to pick off his rivals one by one and claim a podium finish, just ahead of championship rival Giovinazzi.
“I’m happy with P3 today,” said Gasly. “We got the best out of the race after a difficult start, I think we had a problem with the clutch on the warm up. When I finished the race the clutch didn’t work anymore. So we have to analyse what happened there.
“So again the start was not so good and I dropped to P13 I think. After, I just never gave up from the first lap, gave it my all to come back as much as I could. I had really good battles on track. The car was really fast again like it was on Thursday and Friday so I really enjoyed the race, good battles with all the guys and we won over in the end.
“Now we focus on Abu Dhabi, really strange what happened in Race 1. It’s done, we need to analyse that then we’ll focus on Abu Dhabi, put it all together and give it all there.”