Gasly agitated by tactical blunder in Sochi

Pierre Gasly

Pierre Gasly was left furious after his AlphaTauri team gambled and lost on tyre strategy during qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix.

With the track still damp during the second segment of qualifying, the Frenchman spent the entirety of Q2 on the one set of intermediate rubber.

That tactic had worked for the Honda-powered outfit to get both Gasly and team-mate Yuki Tsunoda safely through Q1, but backfired in Q2 as the Sochi circuit continued to dry.

Gasly has been a standout in qualifying all season – securing top six grid slots for nine of the prior 10 grands prix – so was visibly angry upon hopping out of the car with an equal-worst starting position in 2021 of 12th.

“I don’t have too much to say right now, I think we had the pace to easily make it through to Q3, so I’m obviously frustrated,” said the former Red Bull driver.

“In Q1 I was really fast in these conditions, I felt comfortable in the car and could push straight away.

“However, for Q2 I stayed out on just one set of tyres, that were completely used by the end of the session.

“I think this was a big mistake from our side, but I will have to speak to the team to understand more about what happened today.

“It’s a missed opportunity not making it through to Q3, but we now need to look forward to tomorrow and see what we can do to make up lost ground.”

AlphaTauri chief engineer Claudio Balestri added: “The track was drying quickly, and the tyres suffered a bit more than the first Quali session, so we decided to pit Yuki to fit a new set of Inters.

“With Pierre we decided to stay out, unfortunately it didn’t pay off, and he couldn’t make it to Q3.

“We cannot be satisfied, as there was a good opportunity today to start from a good grid position, especially with Pierre.

“We can’t change today’s result, so we need to simply focus our attention on the race and move forward as much as we can.”

Even with his fresher tyres, Tsunoda could not better Gasly’s 1:46.641, with the Japanese rookie to start tonight’s race (beginning 22:00 AEST) from 13th.

AlphaTauri is jostling with Alpine and Aston Martin for fifth in the constructors’ championship, currently sandwiched between the latter two.

Gasly holds ninth in the drivers’ standings, responsible for 66 of the Faenza-based team’s 84 points to date.

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