Pierre Gasly wanted to bring home points on Sunday in Honda’s home Grand Prix at the Suzuka International Racing Course, but the Frenchman was forced to settle for eleventh, with the strategy calls made during the race seemingly going against him.
The Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda driver had started seventh on the grid following an impressive Qualifying performance on Saturday but found himself displaced in the race by both Racing Point Force India F1 Team drivers who pitted before him, while he later lost out on the final point to Carlos Sainz Jr. on fresher tyres as his own struggled with blistering.
Gasly felt he should have pitted sooner for fresh rubber, which could have given him track position over both Sergio Pérez and Esteban Ocon, but the blisters on his rear tyres made the final part of the race especially difficult, and he was helpless to stop Sainz making the jump into tenth.
“It was a good start as I managed to overtake Brendon [Hartley] and the first stint was great,” said Gasly. “I felt good with the car behind Romain [Grosjean] and I was pretty close to him, but then we went too long on the first stint as we didn’t want to pit into traffic but then several cars undercut us.
“We put the Soft tyres on during the pit stop and I enjoyed the battles and overtakes on the first few laps, but then I started to have massive blisters on the rear tyres and I was trying to survive at the end. It could have been better today so we need to analyse more deeply what happened.
“We probably didn’t make the best decisions, but that happens sometimes, it’s easy to say in hindsight that we could have made different choices. It’s just a shame after such a good Qualifying yesterday, it would have been great to reward the team and Honda here in Japan for their home race with some points today.”