Pierre Gasly labels his fifth-place qualifying effort for the Bahrain Grand Prix as his best lap in Formula 1 – but he is wary of a less competitive race on Sunday.
The Frenchman excelled during qualifying and pulled out an impressive lap at the end of Q3 to set the sixth-fastest time, promoting him to fifth on the grid as a result of Lewis Hamilton’s grid penalty. Having reached the final part of qualifying for the first time in his short F1 career to date, Gasly says he put the whole lap together to maximize his position.
“It was the best lap I have done in Formula 1,” Gasly said. “I had one chance in Q3 with my new tires. I knew that I had to do the lap, and if I would do like a really good lap, it could put us in a really good position. For sure I didn’t expect to be P6. But when I crossed the lap, I was like, ‘OK, I have done and I have given everything I had.’ It was just a great feeling when they told me I was P6.
“I think also on my side, I’m getting more and more comfortable on the car, session after session. Just in the beginning of the weekend, I feel that what we have, I feel comfortable with it, and I can just push as much as I want. That’s great.”
Honda suffered problems with the MGU-H and turbo on Gasly’s car in Australia, forcing his retirement early on and requiring modifications to the components this weekend. With the Japanese manufacturer also struggling for reliability in Bahrain a year ago, Gasly admits he is primed for a less competitive race in order to protect the power unit.
“We know that is tougher for us in the race than on one lap performance. That’s why we know tomorrow is not going to be easy. I think they did get better compared to last year. I think we are closer to our main competitors now. We know that in the race we are still struggling a little bit on this.”
Despite his caution, when asked if there was any extra satisfaction in outqualifying both McLarens – the team Honda supplied for the past three years – Gasly replied: “I didn’t say it on the radio, but yeah, for sure!”