Pierre Gasly knew it was always going to be a tight battle to make it into the top ten shootout for the Singapore Grand Prix on Saturday, with the Frenchman ultimately missing out by the narrowest of margins.
The Scuderia Toro Rosso driver finished a competitive ninth fastest in Q1 at the Marina Bay Street Circuit but was only thirteenth in Q2, although he will move up to eleventh on the grid thanks to the gearbox penalty for Sergio Pérez and the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo.
Gasly knows it will be important to have a clean race on Sunday if he is to be in contention for a point’s finish, but he felt he got as much out of his STR14 as he could during Qualifying.
“We knew before Qualifying it would be tight in the midfield to make it to the top 10 here,” said Gasly. “I managed to do it in Q1 with the ninth-fastest time, then in Q2 we just missed out by a tenth, so it was really close. It’s always a bit frustrating when it’s that close, but I think we did the best with what we had.
“Tomorrow we will start the race P12, so we need to look at our strategy options to see where we can take advantage by choosing our starting tyres for the race. I’ll be pushing as much as I can, it’s a long 61 laps where a lot of things can happen, so it will be important to have a clean race and keep fighting until the end to hopefully score some points for the team.”
Team-mate Daniil Kvyat’s day was compromised in final practice, where an oil leak caused him to abort his session before completing a timed lap. A Honda engine change followed in between practice and Qualifying, but it left the Russian without any rhythm coming into the session, and it resulted in a Q1 elimination.
“I cannot be happy with my Qualifying, the last lap felt very poor and I knew once I crossed the line there wouldn’t be a chance for Q2,” said Kvyat. “I ran into a lot of traffic which was unfortunate as it cost me some time, and a little mistake with the engine switch in Sector 1 did not help.
“Not taking part in FP3 hurt us quite a lot and at a track like this every lap counts. I wasn’t really in the rhythm when I went out on track for Q1 and I didn’t have a great feeling in the car.
“I expect a tough race tomorrow as it can be quite unpredictable around here, however maybe that will work in our favour, so we can have a chance to finish in the points.”
Technical Director Jody Egginton was left frustrated by the outcome of Qualifying, particularly with how important track position is around the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Both Gasly and Kvyat will have work to do to move up the order and fight for points in what is expected to be an extremely tight battle for the points-paying positions.
“After a reasonable Friday, today has been somewhat frustrating with a chassis side oil leak on Dany’s car in FP3,” said Egginton. “This prevented him getting any meaningful running and therefore the completion of the normal preparations. Pierre’s FP3 ran a lot smoother and we were reasonably happy with the car’s performance.
“Regarding Qualifying, Dany had a bit more work to do and unfortunately, we were not able to get beyond Q1 on this occasion, which is frustrating given the importance of grid position here, but we will just have to take some risks tomorrow and see what we can recover. Pierre was reasonably competitive but again, frustratingly, we just missed out on what was a very tight battle for Q3.
“Looking ahead to the race, overtaking is difficult here but If we can make good use of the tyres and any opportunity which might arise from safety cars, there could still be the possibility to move up the field.”