The last two races have showed Pierre Gasly both the highs and lows of Formula 1, with the surprise Italian Grand Prix race winner crashing out of the Tuscan Grand Prix on the opening lap.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda felt he was confident of moving up the grid at the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, only for him to get tangled up in a crash that also involved Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean and eliminated both himself and Max Verstappen.
“After the win in Monza, Mugello showed what can happen in sport,” said Gasly. “We had our best free practice sessions of the year, we were really competitive on Friday and Saturday morning as I was P5, but then we had problems in qualifying.
“I was confident I could move up some places in the race, but unfortunately, the Grand Prix lasted all of one corner for me. A shame, as given how the race went, there would have been opportunities to do something good. But that’s racing.”
Heading to this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, Gasly says it was nice to have a weekend without racing having competed in the Belgian, Italian and Tuscan Grand Prix in consecutive weekends.
The Frenchman, who currently sits tenth in the Driver’s Championship and has been responsible for forty-three of AlphaTauri’s fifty-three points in 2020, says the reset was very much needed and the team can come to Russia refreshed and back on form.
“Now we can look ahead to Sochi and I have to say it was nice to have a weekend without a race because the schedule is pretty intense,” said Gasly. “It’s also important for the mechanics and engineers in the team to get a break. We can reset and come back to Sochi in top form.
“It’s a completely different track to the last few we have raced on. It is much slower than Monza and Mugello. In some ways, Sochi is a sort of street circuit with the majority of corners being 90-degree fourth or fifth gear turns, so all very similar. Then there’s a slower final sector.
“It’s an interesting track, but it’s hard to say now how well our car will work there. One nice thing is that I believe we will have quite a lot of spectators allowed in the grandstands, more than at Mugello. It will be nice to see more people and have a bit more atmosphere.”
Gasly feels AlphaTauri are working in the right direction when it comes to the development of the AT-01, and the Frenchman feels they are continually showing signs of improvement that has brought them closer and closer to the front of the midfield on a more regular basis.
He acknowledges the team are embroiled in an ultra-close scrap for the points behind the leading two teams, but Gasly says it is important to keep the momentum from the past three races going into Sochi.
“We will have to wait and see how we go, but I’d say we are working in the right direction with the car,” said Gasly. “We have learned a lot about setting it up to get all the performance out of it.
“We are pretty consistent now in performance terms and we have shown weekend after weekend that we are constantly improving. We have a better understanding of how the car works and the updates we introduced seem to work well.
“Now we have to make sure we keep out of trouble, as we have seen there is a lot going on in the races at the moment. We want to continue this upward trend: in Spa and Monza our performance was good, and even in Mugello right up to qualifying.
“Where we are in the midfield is incredibly close between several teams. We are in a group separated within three-tenths of a second, so it will be important for us to do everything perfectly if we want to fight with the cars directly ahead of us.”
Between his win at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza and Mugello, Gasly did not get much time to relax and savour his victory, but the gap after the race in Tuscany has given him some time to reflect on what a superb result it was for both himself and his team.
“Even now, a few weeks on from Monza, I have had a bit more time to savour and enjoy what happened, as it was such a rush from there to Mugello,” said the Frenchman. “It’s cool and of course, it was a very strong moment that came as a result of so much work from everyone.
“I think it has given everyone a real boost; not just the race team but also everyone behind the scenes. Now, we have to try and continue with a run of strong performances that we have seen since the start of the season.”