Pierre Gasly says engine issue cost him time on the straights which hurt him towards the end of F1 Azerbaijan GP, while Yuki Tsunoda couldn’t do much at the end but was satisfied with P7.
All weekend, AlphaTauri’s Gasly looked pretty solid with a Top 5 pace, fighting the likes of Ferrari, McLaren and Alpine. Although, in the race, it was Aston Martin, who troubled him the most along with the Italian manufacturer drivers.
Gasly had to battle Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, as Sebastian Vettel just managed to pip him towards the end, when the Frenchman had small engine trouble. He lost him on the safety car re-start after the crash for Lance Stroll on the main straight.
Gasly was able to fight off Leclerc, though, and with the trouble for Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, the Frenchman secured his third F1 podium. He even completed all the steps on the podium, having finished first and second previously.
“The whole weekend we showed such a strong performance and it came a bit out of nowhere,” said Gasly. “We showed some very strong pace in Monaco. We were coming in Baku wondering whether we would be able to show a similar kind of performance. And from lap one I just felt very confident in the car, very comfortable.
“I was able to push and we had such good pace all weekend, best quali of the year in P4, couple of hundredths from the first row and in the race, we had great pace. Especially at the start of the race where we were keeping up with the top guys. And then from mid-race onwards we had an engine issue so we started to lose performance in the straights.
“That’s when it started to be a bit more difficult for us. I wasn’t too sure whether we will be able to keep that position but in the end, we did,” summed up Gasly, as when asked to elaborate on the engine issue, the Frenchman said the difference could be seen on his and Tsunoda’s data.
“I need to have a look at the data – but there was clearly a pretty big difference with Yuki, for example, so the guys told me a lot of engine switches to try to limit the damage but yeah, I was very strong in the second sector and the straight was very hard, and Seb passed us,” said Gasly. “I could not really do anything there.
“I really pushed my brakes to the limit with Seb. I thought I was going to end in the wall there. I managed to stop it somehow, I don’t know how. I was really late braking and with Charles the same. I really wanted that podium. I took some big risks but it was clearly worth it and I’m super-happy,” summed up Gasly.
Post-race, Honda’s Toyoharu Tanabe noted about the problem, as Gasly explained, but added that they will only know more once going through the data and also the engine. “There was a problem with the PU data which is the part that the driver noticed,” he said. “For the parts that can be handled, the driver operated the switch to handle it. From now on, I will check the details personally.”
It was a good day eventually for AlphaTauri in their fight against Alpine and Aston Martin, with Tsunoda ending up seventh. The Japanese driver registered his best result and returned to points after Bahrain, but he lost to Fernando Alonso on re-start.
“I’m a bit frustrated by the final result, as I think the pace in the car has been strong this weekend,” said Tsunoda. “The start of the race was ok for me and until the red flag I think my performance was really good. Unfortunately, I dropped two positions during the last laps, I’m not sure I could have done anything differently, but I’ll analyse everything tonight so I can understand this better moving forward. P7 still means important points for the team though.”
Here’s Max Verstappen and Pirelli on tyre blowout