Pierre Gasly just couldn’t catch a break in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Alpine driver ruing a pair of on-track contacts and a sub-optimal strategy that turned his evening into a “damage limitation” exercise at Yas Marina.
Gasly closed out the top-ten in qualifying on Saturday evening which equated to a P10 spot on the grid of Sunday’s race.
But the Frenchman quickly gained a couple of positions at the start as he overtook Haas’ Nico Hulkenberg and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
However, in the commotion of the opening lap, Perez collided with the rear of the Alpine, slightly damaging the A523.
Gasly carried on, only to be overtaken by Perez on lap 12 of 58. Then a lock-up by the Alpine at Turn 6 caught out Hamilton who nudged the rear of Gasly’s car as they entered the corner, the Mercedes inflicting additional damage to the Alpine’s diffuser.
That wasn’t the end of the Frenchman’s troubles however. Pitting from P6 on lap 17 to switch from mediums to hards, Gasly rejoined just behind his teammate Esteban Ocon who had undertaken his pitstop two laps earlier from P8.
A livid Gasly was at a loss to understand how Ocon had undercut him and made his feelings known over the team radio.
“There were a couple of things that didn’t go our way,” he explained after the race. “At the start I had a really good move into Turn 6, overtaking Lewis and Checo [Perez] but Checo clipped the back of my car.
‘So I had the first bit of damage and a couple of laps later Lewis finished me.
“He just drove into the back of my car, broke all the diffuser, so from there on it was kind of damage limitation and we were losing quite a lot of downforce.
“Then after there were a couple of things which should have gone slightly different but then we will discuss with the team about it,” he said, alluding to the team’s strategic move that place Ocon ahead of him.
“It should not happen. The leading car always has the priority and we know it should not happen. So, I’m sure we’ll learn from it and I’m sure it won’t happen again.
“I think the main conversation will happen in the office and I’m sure we’ll have it, but shouldn’t have happened.
“I don’t think it would have changed because the damage was already done with the diffuser, but clearly not our day.”
As he cast a look back on his debut season with Alpine, Gasly was satisfied overall with his and his team’s work, especially in the second half of the year.
“Yeah, I mean overall I’m really pleased,” he said. “Because changing teams and coming to my first season with Alpine it was always going to be quite difficult at the start and quite tricky.
“Takes some months before you really find your feet, into a new car, into a new organisation with new people, with new engineers around you but I think overall we did a good job. We really became stronger and stronger months after months.
“Second part of the year was definitely better and really happy with the mindset and mentality I am seeing inside the team. I know for next year we will start with much stronger foundations than I was 10 months ago in Bahrain.”