Gasly labels AlphaTauri's Qatar race pace 'shocking'

Pierre Gasly - AlphaTauri - Qatar Gp - November 21 2021.
© AlphaTauri

Sunday's Qatar Grand Prix saw Pierre Gasly suffer a shocking race, despite having been promoted to the front row of the grid just hours before the start.

Gasly had been strong in qualifying and finished fourth fastest with his team mate Yuki Tsunoda in eighth. He was then promoted onto the front row alongside pole sitter Lewis Hamilton after Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas were handed grid penalties.

But Gasly suffered a poor start on the soft compound tyres and immediately lost two places on the opening two laps to Verstappen and Alpine's Fernando Alonso.

An early pit stop on lap 12 saw him plummet to the back of the field and he spent the rest of the afternoon struggling to make up all those lost positions on a two-stop strategy, eventually finishing just outside the points in 11th while Tsunoda was 13th.

"Both Yuki and myself started in the top 10, but went massively backwards during the race," Gasly acknowledged. "I was giving everything I had inside the car today, but we were just too slow.

“Our pace was shocking, basically," he told the media after the end of the twilight race under the floodlights at Losail International Circuit.

“It was very frustrating,” the admitted. "We don’t really have the answer, we tried to stick with Fernando with the first few laps, I could barely make it.

“After that we tried to go for an aggressive two-stop strategy but the pace was never there," he continued.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W12 leads at the start of the race with Pierre Gasly (FRA) AlphaTauri AT02 and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Alpine F1 Team A521. 21.11.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha

"I tried to push as hard as I could in the car, but even with fresher tyres than Fernando I was miles away when he was on used tyres."

“Today [we could have done] anything, could have done five stops, three, two, one doesn’t matter," he replied when asked about the impact of switching to a two-stop strategy on Sunday.

"Just a question of pace, just too slow," he said, after finding himself stuck behind the Aston Martin of Sebastian Vettel for an extended spell. "Even behind Seb I couldn’t pass him, didn’t have the pace. Very frustrating.”

Gasly's disappointed was even more acute after the team's success in getting both Gasly and his team mate into the final round of qualifying o a strong display on Saturday.

"I don’t understand how both cars can qualify like that in the top ten and have good pace, and both go backwards during the entire race and just not showing any signs of speed. That’s the main things.

Pierre Gasly (FRA) AlphaTauri AT02. 21.11.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Qatar Grand Prix, Doha

"It was shocking," he said. “Obviously it’s very frustrating when you see where the Alpines finished.

"But at the end of the day they did a much better job than we did, we can but congratulate them," he added. "We've had a couple of miracles on the last few weekends, and we can’t do it every weekend."

Gasly said that his race performance hadn't been impacted by the incident at the en dof qualifying when he damaged his front wing on a kerb and suffered a puncture at the end of Q3.

"After the incident yesterday we changed some parts on the car, I don’t know if these could have impacted our race pace today," he said. "We’ll have to go away and review everything, as I just can’t explain it right now.”

The team's technical director Jody Egginton said later that "both cars struggled with pace and tyre degradation."

"With Pierre we were struggling with balance, as he had high front left tyre wear, meaning he could not follow the cars ahead," he said. "We were forced to bring the first stop forward and adapt the strategy to allow tyre wear to be managed.

"Yuki’s first stint was compromised when a visor tear off became stuck on the rear wing. This caused a loss of load and balance, necessitating the first stop being brought forward so it could be removed

"The net result of these issues impacted track positions and we did not have sufficient pace to recover on this occasion."

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