The Bahrain GP did not go as planned for AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly who finished in P17. But the promising performance of his team gives him hope, as he thinks they can fight McLaren and Ferrari on all circuits.
Despite the first Grand Prix of 2021 ended in disappointment for Frenchman Pierre Gasly, the qualifying a day earlier and pre-season testing showed the potential of their new AT02 car. Gasly qualified fifth at Bahrain behind the two Mercedes, Max Verstappen and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who was the only midfield driver to beat the 25-year-old.
Further, his new teammate and rookie Yuki Tsunoda showed the performance of the AlphaTauri automobile, although he missed out on a Q3 spot. Still, Pierre Gasly thinks, that the qualifying performance at the season-opener could be a sign for the team leading the midfield rivals. The GP2 champion from 2016 is sure, that the Faenza-based squad can be ahead of McLaren and Ferrari at each Grand Prix weekend of 2021.
“I think [with] the pace we’ve shown all weekend we are in the mix with the Ferrari and the McLaren and that’s positive,” he said. “I think we’re clearly going to fight with them and on all tracks.”
Following the first race of the season, the Frenchman showed disappointment, as he couldn’t convert P5 on the grid into a points-finish. Whereas teammate Tsunoda moved from P11 to his first-ever F1 points thanks to a P9-finish, Gasly’s race ended early after he drove into the back of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo.
By damaging his front wing in the process, Gasly was unable to keep up with the field after an early pit stop. The end result was P17 and a retirement – although the grid position looked promising for much more.
“When I had the contact with the McLaren, after that the race was pretty much over”, was Gasly’s evaluation on the incident.
“I broke the front wing, I damaged the floor, and then that was it pretty much. We had some more issues towards the end of the race, which meant we had to retire the car. Obviously, I’m very disappointed because there was a good fight between the Ferrari and the McLaren. We missed some good points.”
The one-time Formula 1 race winner is sure that his team’s form improved and will improve throughout the season. The first step of the improvement will be step-by-step upgrades until the Spanish Grand Prix in May. Additionally, he thinks that the updates boost the team, which will be a positive aspect ahead of the upcoming Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“Looking at the positives I think the whole weekend we’ve shown some really strong pace in qualifying, the long run on Friday looked strong and I think we would have been in the fight with the Ferrari and the McLaren,” Gasly added. “It didn’t happen, so now we just need to keep doing our work and focus on the next one and make sure that we get the points there.
“I’m sure we’ll be back fighting with them for the next ones.”