The Russian Grand Prix did not smile kindly on Pierre Gasly who, after an excellent performance in free practice and qualifying, was unlucky in the race and crossed the line down in 14th place.
Hot on the heels of both Monza and Singapore, where the Frenchman was gradually gaining momentum, Pierre got off to a good start in the sixth Russian Grand Prix in F1 history. Technically demanding, but also with fast sections such as a straight more than 1 km in length, the Sochi circuit is varied and requires an agile and fast car. Pierre concluded the first day of the weekend with a superb 6th best time, which reflected the progress made by the French driver in the STR14. He moved out of Q1 and positioned himself in the best possible place in qualifying, 11th, which allowed him to choose his tyres for the start of the race. Demoted to 16th after a planned engine change, Pierre knew it wouldn’t be an easy task to get into the points.
“Free practice was very encouraging. The team progressed well between the two sessions, so I felt very comfortable and was able to get the maximum out of the car. The sixth best time on Friday was very promising. Qualifying made my day! My first lap of Q2 was almost perfect and we were very close to McLaren and Renault. In the end, we missed Q3 by the smallest of margins. But I knew that, more than the speed over one lap, it was necessary to prepare for the race because I had to lose five positions and start near the back of the grid. Therefore, it was necessary to be able to overtake and not overuse the tyres while still keeping an eye on our strategy and any possible safety car periods.”
A good start combined with a turbulent first lap in the middle of the pack allowed Pierre to climb up into 12th place by lap 2. The top 10 seemed within reach, but unfortunately Pierre was unsuccessful with the timing of the safety car's intervention, following his pit stop halfway through the race. From there he had some good battles with Kvyat and Räikkönen, but was unable to find the same efficiency he had in free practice and qualifying and was unable to move into a point scoring position.
“The race was as tough as the first two days had been promising. We suffered from the conditions as it was warmer than the two previous days. The car overheated a bit which slowed us. I did everything I could, but we just didn’t have the speed to get points. It's a shame because the weekend started so well. We will analyse this phenomenon this week and I will be in the simulator this Wednesday to prepare Suzuka, Honda’s home race where we will all want to have a good race. I cannot wait to be there because the atmosphere and the circuit are fabulous!”.
FP1: 12th, 1:36.538, 25 laps.
FP2: 6th, 1:34.971, 26 laps.
FP3: 11th, 1:34.564, 16 laps.
Qualifying: 11th, 1:33.950 – 16th on the starting grid.
1 pit stop for a total of 29.935 seconds in the pitlane.
Lap 1-26: Medium tyres
Lap 27-53: Soft tyres
Championship: 6th, 69 points