Reprimand and fuel cell issue mar Gasly's Friday

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13.
© XPB 

Pierre Gasly had a rather troubled time on Friday in practice at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix

The first 90-minute session saw him involved in a high-speed near-miss with Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton that earned him a reprimand from race stewards.

“I was really slow because I was preparing my lap. Then my engineer told me Lewis was five or six seconds behind me before the quick left-hander,” Gasly explained.

“When I passed it I had a car in front of me really slow, so I slow down as I thought I had time with the five second gap," he continued.

“But the thing was I was at 60kph and by the time I got the message that I was five or six seconds, Lewis was already down to three seconds or two and half because he was at 300kph and I was at 60kph.

“By the time I saw coming him in the mirror, of course I knew I was already screwed," he added. "I was on the left side and to turn at that point he would be really surprised and there might be something even bigger.

“I tried to close on the left. I even put one tyre on the grass, and I think that was the safest thing to do at that point. But I blocked him," he conceded. "It was just a bit of a bad situation.”

In the afternoon he was sidelined with an issue on the Toro Rosso's fuel cell and completed only 10 laps.

"Unfortunately we ran into some trouble this afternoon so we didn't complete many laps in FP2," he said. "I was only able to do one push lap for performance and then a couple of laps for the long run, which means I didn't learn too much."

"An issue within the fuel system developed on the last fire up before hitting the track, which required us to change parts within the cell" explained Toro Rosso's chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls.

"Normally, this would have taken at least two hours, but the mechanics did a fantastic job to get the parts changed in record time and allow Pierre to get out for a run at the end of the session.

"Obviously, this compromised it a lot as he was trying to set a fast lap with DRS while all other cars were on their race simulations," he admitted. "Even so, we found a small window in the traffic so Pierre could get a feel of the balance."

Gasly will now be relying on the qualifying and long distance race simulation data that was gathered by his team mate Brendon Hartley during the afternoon. "It's good that Brendon had a clean session so we can use his data to improve the performance and get a good result for Qualifying tomorrow," said Gasly.

The 21-year-old had been hoping for a smoother time of it this week after he was hit on the head by flying debris at the start of the Russian Grand Prix.

The helmet of Pierre Gasly (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso.

The piece appeared to come from the front wing of Daniel Ricciardo's front wing on the opening lap of the race. It hit Gasly in the face, but the helmet did its job and the Frenchman was unhurt.

"This was really, really scary because I thought it was going through and straight in my eye," Gasly said at the time.

"Thank God I was not going so fast at the time. If I was [doing] 300kph at the end of the straight it would have maybe been different.

"When I threw the part out of my cockpit I was surprised by how big it was."

Germany's Bild newspaper this week published an exclusive close-up photo of the damage done to the visor of the Frenchman's Arai racing helmet.

Peter Burger, in charge of Arai's line of Formula 1 helmets, said the visor remained intact and the helmet itself is undamaged.

"It's coming to the factory and will be analysed there," he said. "It's important to collect all the data after such a heavy impact."

Gasly was subsequently forced to retire from the race due to an unrelated brake-related problem, which the team hopes has been taken care of in time for this week's race in Japan.

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