Pierre Gasly heads to the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend aiming to continue his good start to the 2021 Formula 1 season, although he hopes for a better performance than was shown in the Spanish Grand Prix last time out.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver has taken the time to reflect on the race weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, a venue where for the first time in 2021 he failed to get into the top ten shootout on Saturday, and where he finished only tenth on Sunday after taking a five-second time penalty for being out of position on the grid at the start.
Gasly says the level of performance across some of the other teams in Spain proves that AlphaTauri cannot rest on their laurels, and they need to maximise what they have every weekend if they are to fight for points.
“Looking back to Spain it was quite a tough weekend, especially as Qualifying was not straightforward,” said Gasly. “I missed out on Q3 by just two hundredths of a second, which is not very much at all, and meant it was the first time this season that I’ve not been in the top ten on the grid.
“I was disappointed, partly because it shows that some of the other teams are evolving and improving, the gaps are really very small now. We know we really have to optimise everything to be in the midfield fight.
“Then the race saw us lose seconds here and there and I was as low as fifteenth, but the final stint was encouraging, overtaking quite a few cars. One more lap and it could have been ninth, it would definitely have been doable without the penalty.
“There are some positives and the potential is there, but with a couple of teams making a step forward we know we have to work hard if we are going to continue to fight with them over the rest of the season. It’s impossible to be faultless in any form of motorsport, but we need to try and do things perfectly and to find more speed if we want to score bigger points each weekend.”
“We know that Qualifying is 95% of the race result”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, Gasly is happy that the venue is back on the calendar after a year away, with the 2020 event falling off the schedule due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With the reduce practice time this season – the two Thursday sessions will be one hour long compared to the ninety minutes they used to be – Gasly says it will be important to maximise the time on track they have in order to have a car capable of starting and finishing inside the top ten.
“As for Monaco, it’s a circuit that I really like a lot and I’m very happy to be going back there, after we were unable to do so last year,” said the Frenchman. “It’s a very special track, absolutely nothing like the first four we have raced on this year.
“The street circuit presents several unique challenges, starting with a lack of grip, so I hope we will get to understand how our car behaves as quickly as possible, working out what we need to do to be quick and to continue our run of points finishes.
“In Monaco, it’s important to get as much track time as possible, but I don’t feel the shorter Friday practice sessions will be a problem because this year we are now used to doing as many laps as in the past, by spending less time in the garage.
“Of course, at Monaco you always need a little bit of time to adapt, to play with finding the limits of your car and getting as close as possible to the walls, then gradually building up your confidence levels through each session. And then you give it everything on Saturday afternoon because we know that Qualifying is 95% of the race result.”
Despite some fans being allowed to attend the race this weekend, Gasly is not expecting the same kind of full-on weekend in the principality that he has been used to in the past, and he hopes to have some time out to have some fun.
“They are allowing a limited number of spectators for this race, which will be great, but the overall weekend will not have the same hectic schedule we always had to deal with in Monaco in the past,” said Gasly.
“So, I’m hoping I might get some time to relax and maybe play a bit of Paddle Tennis with Charles on Friday morning, if we’re not too busy, although we will have the usual engineering meetings that afternoon.”