Pierre Gasly ended a number of droughts with his “unbelievable” and “crazy” debut Formula 1 victory in the Italian Grand Prix.
The win at Monza was the first for a team other than Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull since the first race of 2013, when Kimi Raikkonen won for Lotus in Australia. It also marked the first win for a French driver in F1 since Olivier Panis’ stunning victory in Monaco in 1996, and also AlphaTauri’s first win with Honda, at the scene of the team’s only ever other triumph with Sebastian Vettel in 2008.
“Honestly, it’s unbelievable — I’m not realizing what’s happening right now,” Gasly said after holding off Carlos Sainz by 0.4s. “It was such a crazy race, and then we capitalized on the red flag. The car was fast but we had a pretty fast car behind us.
“I’ve been through so much in my 18 months in Formula 1, my first podium in Formula 1 last year I was already feeling ‘wow’, with AlphaTauri and now my first win in Formula 1, in Monza, I struggle to realize.
“This team has done so much for me — they gave me my first opportunity in Formula 1, they gave me my first podium, now they are giving me my first win, it’s crazy, it’s just crazy.
“I can’t thank them enough, everybody, from AlphaTauri, to Honda. I mean, this is a power-sensitive track and we won the race in front of all the Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault cars. It’s just an amazing day.”
Gasly admitted he was feeling huge pressure in the latter stages, having pushed to make a gap early when the race restarted follow a red flag period and spent the whole second half in the lead.
“After the restart I think we had 28 laps to go. I managed to pass Lance (Stroll) into Turn 1 and I think this really helped me for the rest of the race. Lewis (Hamilton) pitted and after that I was on my own, reminding me of my Formula 2 days — just leading the race and focusing on your own driving, corner by corner.
“I pushed so hard at the start because I wanted to break the tow to the guys behind. I didn’t have anyone in front of me so I knew I had to make the time in the corners. The last five laps were really hard because my tires were completely gone — I was sideways in every corner. I could see Carlos slowly closing the gap.
“I would have been so pissed if I lost the win in the last few laps. I gave everything I had and I’m so happy I managed to get my first race win in F1.”