Pierre Gasly felt his performance during the Brazilian Grand Prix was his best since he made his Formula 1 debut in the Malaysian Grand Prix, with the Frenchman bringing his STR12 home in twelfth position on Sunday.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver had started down in nineteenth after another difficult weekend that involved another Renault power unit change and subsequent grid penalty, but his first lap saw him advance nine positions to run tenth, half down to his positioning into turns one and two and half thanks to the collision between Stoffel Vandoorne, Kevin Magnussen and Daniel Ricciardo.
“I think it’s definitely our best race and best performance since I arrived in Malaysia,” said Gasly. “It’s true that we knew it would be a difficult race starting from P19 with the penalties, but I think in the end it was really positive coming back from 19th on the grid.
“We knew the start was the key, after watching races from the past few years, if we wanted to have a decent race, so I went on the outside into Turn 1, which worked out pretty well.
“I overtook maybe three cars at Turn 1 then one at Turn 2, then after all the mess in front of me I stayed flat out and just tried to avoid everyone!”
Despite his good start, Gasly could not hold on to a top ten position and ultimately brought the car home twelfth, with his race hindered by tyre degradation that ultimately saw him lose touch with Carlos Sainz Jr. ahead of him.
“In terms of performance, we extracted everything we could,” said Gasly. “At the beginning of the first stint I was staying quite close to Carlos and then after that I picked up the pace, but we were quite limited with the tyre degradation.
“In the end I don’t think we could have done much better than what we did today.”
Although he saw the chequered flag, he crossed the line at around 60km/h after losing power on the run to the line, with the Frenchman parking the car before he was able to return to the pit lane.
“I knew there was something wrong going on because every lap they were like ‘yeah, oil transfer, oil transfer’ – and I knew we had old-spec MGU-K so I was like ‘f***, hopefully it’s going to last until the end’,” said Gasly.
“And then actually 200 metres before the finish line I was full throttle and I lost completely the power on the car.
“I was like ‘bup bup bup bup’, I crossed the line, I think at 60km/h, and I was like ‘what should I do? What should I do?’ and they just told me to park the car.
“I don’t know exactly what was the problem but there was definitely something.”