After qualifying in the top 10, Pierre Gasly crossed the finish line at Suzuka in 8th place – 7th after Renault’s disqualification. Pierre gives Toro Rosso one of their best results at the Japanese circuit, despite racing with a damaged car.
The 17th Grand Prix of the 2019 season will remain in the Formula 1 record books, as well as for Scuderia Toro Rosso and Pierre. For the fifth time in history, qualifying and the race were held on the same day, with Typhoon Hagibis forcing the authorities to close the circuit on Saturday for the safety of spectators and F1 teams and personnel. Pierre watched the first free practice session from the pits while his former Super Formula teammate, Naoki Yamamoto, took the wheel of the STR14 on Friday morning. As the 3rd free practice session was cancelled, Pierre only had one session in order to tame one of the most technical circuits of the season while finding the best settings on a track that traditionally doesn’t suit the strengths of his Toro Rosso. Brilliantly in the top 10 of FP2, Pierre recorded a first-class performance by moving out of both Q1 and Q2 to take 9th place in qualifying.
“I was delighted to come back to Japan and Suzuka and we all wanted to get a good result for Honda. Although I only participated in FP2, the program prepared by the team was intense and allowed us to work on configuration for qualifying and the race. The car performed well, but we still had some performance to find. So, I really didn’t expect to be 9th on the grid, but I put in one of my best laps of the year and the behaviour of the car was adapted to the evolution of the track where I could give everything in Q2 to get into the top 10”.
Pierre had a good start and took advantage of the first lap scramble to consolidate his place in the top 10. He climbed up to 5th place before his one and only pit stop. Then From lap 19, he covered the longest stint on Mediums tyres and won the vast majority of the battles against his direct opponents. Despite a suspension problem that forced him to change his driving style, Pierre scored his first points in F1 in Japan while also giving Toro Rosso the best result of their history at Suzuka since Vettel's 6th position back in 2008.
“I am very happy! What a race! I gave everything I could to get the best result possible and I'm happy for the team and for Honda. This weekend was a little crazy between the typhoon, the cancellation of Saturday, but the atmosphere was still exciting at Suzuka. I spent most of my race in 7th or 8th place and there was a lot of fighting with Renault and Racing Point. It became even more difficult with a problem on the rear suspension. The rear was loose and it was hard not to lose it, and the tyres were wearing out even faster as a result. But we made it all the way and I really wanted to give this result to Toro Rosso, Honda and the Japanese fans. I cannot wait to compete in the coming races!”.
FP1: Did not participate.
FP2: 9th, 1:29.354, 34 laps.
FP3: Cancelled because of Hagibis typhoon.
Qualifying: 9th, 1:28.836
Race: 7th, 6 points
1 pit stop for a total of 23.180 seconds in the pitlane.
Lap 1-18: Soft tyres
Lap 19-52: Medium tyres
Championship: 7th, 75 points