Pierre Gasly felt Qualifying for the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was one of his best during his time with Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, with the Frenchman set to start fifth on Sunday.
Gasly was one of the stars of qualifying and was third fastest in Q3 after the initial runs, only for both Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc to beat him in the dying seconds to demote him to the third row of the grid at the Bahrain International Circuit.
It was also impressive that the AlphaTauri driver made it through to the top ten shootout using Pirelli’s medium compound, and Gasly hopes they can utilise this and score a big result on Sunday evening under the floodlights in Bahrain.
“I’m really pleased with my performance today, it’s one of my best Qualifying positions I’ve had with the team,” said Gasly. “For the first race of the year it’s important for us to show some good potential for the season ahead and I think we’ve managed to do that today.
“Only using the medium tyre in Q2 was a huge risk, but we managed to make it work, and hopefully we can use this to our advantage tomorrow in the race. I’ll try to make the most of the position we’re starting from on the grid– I think there’s clearly an opportunity for us and I will do everything possible to get as many points as I can for the team.”
“It’s a shame to not be starting the race further up the grid” – Yuki Tsunoda
Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda was looking good to join Gasly in Q3, but a poor final flying lap in Q2 meant he slipped out of the top ten. The Japanese driver will make his Grand Prix debut from thirteenth on the grid.
Tsunoda was baffled by the drop in performance and grip of the medium tyre on that final run, with the youngest driver on the grid admitting he was disappointed not to qualify higher on the grid.
Like Gasly, Tsunoda is hopeful of a strong result on Sunday as AlphaTauri’s long-run pace has appeared to be strong all weekend long in Bahrain.
“I’m a bit disappointed if I’m honest, I showed I had the pace on the medium tyre in Q1 and I felt confident with our strategy going into Q2, but I just didn’t have the grip during those final laps,” said Tsunoda.
“It’s a shame to not be starting the race further up the grid but we know the race pace is there, so let’s see what we can do tomorrow. I’ll analyse the data tonight with my engineers, ahead of the race tomorrow, as I am continuing to learn from every lap that I complete.
“There are still lots of positives to take-away from today – it was my first Formula 1 Qualifying session and I’m feeling confident in the car. I think we’re still in a reasonable position and have the potential to make our way forward during the race.”