Pierre Gasly heads to the São Paulo Grand Prix with confidence after a superb performance throughout the Mexico City Grand Prix last weekend that saw him finish fourth.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver felt the whole weekend at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was a strong one for the team, and he was able to qualify fifth after a tow from team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, who Gasly feels is improving thanks to growing in confidence behind the wheel of the AT-02.
And Gasly feels the result in Mexico City will motivate the team as they bid to beat the Alpine F1 Team to fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship in 2021.
“My third fourth-place finish of the season and the team now equal fifth on points in the Constructors’ Championship,” said Gasly. “Mexico really was a strong weekend, with the whole team working very hard to achieve this result, and only the two Red Bulls and Lewis were in front of me.
“We were immediately on the pace from Friday and then best of the rest behind the four drivers from the top two teams in Qualifying. Also good for the team is the fact Yuki is growing in confidence and he was a great help, giving me a tow in Qualifying.
“Everyone is now very motivated about getting fifth in the Constructors’ and the result last Sunday is a real motivation to keep pushing hard in Brazil, another track that I think can suit us.”
The last time Formula 1 raced in Brazil, Gasly secured his maiden podium with a second-place finish, with the dash to the line against Lewis Hamilton a memorable moment in the Frenchman’s career around a track he feels is very technical and one that puts pressure on the power unit.
“The last time we went to Brazil was in 2019 when I finished second,” said Gasly. “It was my very first F1 podium and a really big moment for me, especially given the way it happened with the sprint to the line with Lewis from the last corner.
“I am looking forward to reliving all those very nice memories and it’s going to be cool to go back there having been on the podium before. The track keeps you very busy, it’s anti-clockwise and even the straights are not really straight.
“You’re always having something to do in the cockpit, while the track itself is very technical and I really enjoy it. It’s not easy for the car and Power Unit there, so it will be a challenge.”
“I am getting more experienced and confident in my car” – Yuki Tsunoda
Team-mate Tsunoda failed to finish the first lap last weekend in Mexico City, but the Japanese racer felt the weekend up until then was one of his best of the year.
Tsunoda started towards the back of the pack after taking a grid penalty for an engine change, and he collided with Esteban Ocon at turn two, although no driver was at fault for the contact as everyone was attempting to avoid the spun Valtteri Bottas.
And heading to another track where he has never raced at before in Brazil, Tsunoda is hoping to impress once more, although he knows he will be up against it with limited track time prior to Friday afternoon’s Qualifying session and Saturday’s Sprint Qualifying race.
“Even though I didn’t even finish the first lap of the Mexican GP, I feel my performance up until Sunday was one of my best of the season,” said Tsunoda. “For the third race in a row I made it to Q3, I had good pace all weekend long and generally felt confident in the car.
“My first visit to Mexico didn’t disappoint, it was such an amazing experience, the fans are so passionate, and it was so great to see.
“Now we are in Sao Paulo, Brazil and it’s another first for me. Apart from the fact I’ve never driven the Brazil track, there will be the added factor of the Sprint Qualifying format, which means I only get one hour of free practice to learn this new track before going into Qualifying.
“But we have done this a couple of times now, I am getting more experienced and confident in my car, so I know what to expect and how best to deal with it.”