After a run of frustrating races, including the British Grand Prix which he described as his “worst weekend of the season”, Pierre Gasly is determined to put things right at this weekend’s race in Hungary to ensure he ends the first half of 2021 on a high.
Having qualified a superb sixth for the Styrian Grand Prix, Gasly retired on Lap 1 after contact with Charles Leclerc left his AlphaTauri with a puncture and suspension damage. He finished ninth at the following race, the Austrian GP, before coming home outside the points at Silverstone after suffering another puncture. It’s a run that has seen him pick up just two points in three races – and left him feeling “fed up”.
“The last race at Silverstone was frustrating as we lost a couple of points because of the puncture at the end, I think even eighth place could have been possible,” he said. “Someone had thrown some gravel onto the track and it cut my tyre.
“So honestly, I was a bit fed up with how things went generally in the past few races. In Austria there was the collision with Charles, which cost me some points, and then that puncture. Overall, I’d say Silverstone was my worst weekend of the season, especially as it looked as though we could have salvaged between two and four points, so it was annoying that we couldn’t take them.
“But that’s how it goes sometimes and now we definitely have things to review. We had to deal with more complications than we expected and the new format didn’t really allow us much time to sort things out after free practice, before going straight to qualifying and parc ferme.”
2021 Styrian Grand Prix: Gasly and Leclerc collide in thrilling race start at the Red Bull Ring
After failing to score in the season opener, Gasly then went on a six-race scoring run – including a brilliant podium in Azerbaijan – before his Styrian GP retirement. And ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix, he said he is keen to take a big haul of points to end the first half of the season on a high.
“We got off to a very strong start to the season, so now it will be important to have a good end to the first part of the year in Budapest. I have done well in the past at the Hungaroring, winning in Formula 2 and scoring points a couple of times in Formula 1.
“It’s a circuit I like a lot, as there are no real straights and plenty of corners, so in the cockpit you are always doing something – braking, turning, or managing the throttle. There’s very little time spent in a straight line and I enjoy that. It means it’s important to get into a good rhythm and so I find it really enjoyable to drive.
“Of course, it’s always a really physical challenge with no chance to rest on the lap, plus it looks like it’s going to be another very hot weekend given the heat in Europe at the moment, but I feel ready for it.”
Gasly endured ‘one of the most difficult weekends of the season’ at Silverstone
AlphaTauri currently sit fifth in the constructors’ championship, just one point ahead of Aston Martin, and Gasly says his team will need to extract the maximum from the AT02 package to stay ahead in that fight, going into the summer break.
“In terms of our chances there, we have seen in the past couple of weekends that McLaren and Ferrari have made a big step forward. We know we are fighting for fifth in the championship with Alpine and Aston Martin and that’s the target we must aim for.
“I think that in Budapest we will have a chance of being in the mix with these two teams, but we will need to have a very good weekend, benefitting from the full potential that is there in our package.
“After that comes the break and I think it will be good for everyone after an intense first part of the year. We know the next part of the season is going to be very demanding, so being able to rest in a year with 23 races planned, the most ever, will be important. It is going to be tough towards the end of the year, both physically and psychologically, so a bit of time for everyone to spend with their families is a good thing.”