An unwritten rule: When invited to a friends house you don’t trash their new toys! Well, Pierre Gasly was clearly not given that advice and, as a result, pranged the brand new Red Bull RB15, with it compromising his team’s preparation for the 2019 Formula 1 world championship season.
After six days of solid and trouble free running for the RB15 with new boy Gasly and Max Verstappen alternating in the cockpit, on Thursday in Spain the Frenchman made a costly mistake when he clipped the grass at speed at Turn 9 and became a passenger as the car slammed the wall and sustained substantial damage.
Since then the potential title contenders have been on the back foot trying to repair the car with limited spare parts, so much so that Verstappen lost most of the final day of F1 preseason testing at Circuit de Catalunya on Friday,
After a delayed start to his Friday, he managed only 29 laps in the morning stanza after which the RB15 disappeared into the pits shortly before lunch and will only be seen again in on track and in anger during FP1 in Australia on 15 March.
Verstappen told reporters that a gearbox issue was the cause of the problem that sidelined them for most of the final day in Barcelona, “It is related to the crash yesterday. We did a change but you’re always limited with parts you have in testing.”
With reference to the damage caused by Gasly, when he shunted during the first week of preseason testing, the Dutchman added, “When you already have two [gearboxes] which are destroyed, it isn’t ideal.”
“Still, the team did an amazing job to turn the car around last night. A lot of parts were flown in and the team was working really hard to get the car ready, and only half an hour into the session we were out again.”
“Hopefully it will not hurt us too much that we didn’t run a lot today. But I’m quite confident we can have a good start to the season.”
When the flag waved to end the eighth day of testing Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton were top of the timing screens, the Ferrari driver a couple of thousandths of a second quicker than the world champ in the Mercedes, marking themselves again as the two teams to beat.
But Verstappen is unconcerned about their pace, “They are very quick but I’m happy with what we’ve done so far. Melbourne is a different track again, different temperatures, so it’ll be about finding a good set-up. Also, it is the first race, and it’s still a long season.”
This year Red Bull have Honda engines bolted to the back of their cars for the first time, and only time will tell if the smart gamble pays off, but for now it appears that the right boxes are being ticked.
But how expensive was Gasly’s mistake?
Consider this: the RB15 racked up 739 laps in six days at an average of 123 laps per day, but during the final two days in Spain collectively they could only manage a meagre 74 laps of the Spanish Grand Prix venue.
Expensive enough to get a bollocking one would guess…