A week after playing a starring role in the Bahrain Grand Prix, Pierre Gasly was brought down to Earth with a bump after being eliminated from Qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix at the first hurdle, with Frenchman set to start seventeenth on the grid on Sunday.
The Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda driver had started fifth in Bahrain last weekend and finished an excellent fourth but could not get into those lofty positions this time around, ending just under a tenth of a second down on team-mate Brendon Hartley, who managed to scrape through into Q2.
“It was a tough day today,” said Gasly. “Yesterday was quite positive for us finishing eleventh and twelfth, but we changed the car and since this morning I’ve struggled to find pace which made it difficult to put everything together.
“We didn’t have much time to change the setup between FP3 and Qualifying, and in the end it was a difficult qualifying session.”
Gasly is hopeful that he can make progress up the field on race day, although he acknowledges it will be difficult to break into the top ten from seventeenth on the grid.
The Frenchman also hopes that Toro Rosso will be able to find out why the changes made to the set-up of the STR13 did not translate into a competitive performance in Qualifying.
“I’m still learning a lot about the track, I think in the long run yesterday we looked OK in terms of degradation – so that’s positive – but starting seventeenth we will have to find a way to come back,” said Gasly.
“Hopefully we can understand what went wrong and find the pace again tomorrow. Yesterday we struggled a bit with the front of the car and today there were problems with the rear. I would say we know in the long run we’re usually pretty good with the degradation, but tonight we need to understand why the changes we made didn’t work.
“We’ll try everything to come back tomorrow.”