Pierre Gasly admitted he drove half of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix with a power unit issue that made his battle with Charles Leclerc for third place even more intense.
Leclerc had started from pole position but dropped back in the race, with Gasly sitting an impressive fourth once Max Verstappen retired with a tire failure late in the running. Promoted to third on the restart when Lewis Hamilton went off, Gasly then lost out to Leclerc at the end of the penultimate lap, but immediately hit back into Turn 1 and held on to complete the set of having finished first, second and third in F1.
“Incredible, honestly, I don’t really know what to say,” Gasly said. “It’s been such an incredible weekend. P4 in quali, P3 in the race and it was such an intense race, especially at the end. It was very hard. I think from middle of the race we started having an engine problem. I started to lose performance in the straight and couldn’t be as fast anymore as the start of the race. That’s when Seb (Vettel) started to catch, he passed me on the straight, and I knew it would be difficult.
“Especially in the last two laps, I knew I would be in a tricky position to defend my position on Charles right behind and that’s exactly what happened. All the straights he was right there. he actually passed me before Turn 1 and yes, I saw the podium, like right in front of my eyes and I just gave everything I could. In the end, I made it possible.
“It was an intense battle, but exactly how I like racing. Was very hard but fair and yes, I am really pleased for the guys to get this podium together.”
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Gasly also said the problem caused him to have to take bigger risks under braking in order to try and make back some of the time he was losing in a straight line.
“I need to have a look at the data (how much time was being lost), but it was clearly a pretty big difference with Yuki (Tsunoda), for example, so the guys told me a lot of engine switches to try to limit the damage. But, I was very strong in the second sector and the straight was very hard and Seb passed us. I could not really do anything there.
“I knew in the last two laps, whatever I would do, Charles behind would pass me in the straight and that’s what happened. I just got back in the tow and went for it in Turn 1, he came back at me in Turn 3 and I had to brake very late.
“I really pushed my brakes to the limit with Seb. I thought I was going to end in the wall there. I managed to stop it somehow, I don’t know how. I was really late braking and with Charles the same. I really wanted that podium. I took some big risks, but it was clearly worth it and I’m super-happy.”