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pierre gasly 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix podium third Alpha Tauri Baku F1

Gasly: I saw the podium and just wanted it so badly

pierre gasly 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix podium third Alpha Tauri Baku F1

The rise and rise of Pierre Gasly continued unrestrained at the 2021 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the AlphaTauri driver on it all weekend and rewarded with his first Formula 1 third place after an eventful race in Baku.

Gasly never put a foot wrong all weekend in the Honda-powered AlphaTauri which was a pretty handy piece of kit around the below-sea-level street circuit.

Starting the race from fourth on the grid the Frenchman was always at the sharp end of the action and while a podium might have seemed a bridge too far before the red flag stoppage, the restart played in his favour after Lewis Hamilton fluffed his lines, the Mercedes going straight through Turn 1.

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Gasly capitalised on the unexpected gift to take third after fending off a frantic challenge or two in those hectic final laps; after the race, he told Sky F1: “Incredible, honestly I don’t know what to say. It was such an insane race and an intense last two laps every session we were there.

“Qualifying was mega, I didn’t know we’d be in contention for a podium but in the end we did. It feels incredible to get that podium.

“We had to get the elbows out, it was a very difficult race from the mid-point as we had an engine issue, Seb managed to pass me but I then had to fight for that podium and I really wanted it. We’ve got some really good points, done a really good race and have done a fantastic job.”

Regarding the second start late in the race, Gasly said: After the restart, I thought that Charles would pass me on the straight because we had lost performance, but I saw the podium ahead of me and I tried everything, I just wanted it so badly.

“It was hard but fair racing, just as we like it. The car was incredible all weekend, it felt really good, and it’s just a fantastic result for the whole team. I’m really pleased to reward them with a podium,” added Gasly who now lies eighth in the championship after six rounds.

Team boss Franz Tost was well pleased for his driver: “We started with Pierre in fourth position, which was already a great starting place, and Yuki wasn’t far behind in seventh.

“Both drivers had a good start and Pierre defended P4 for a long period, even whilst managing a small PU issue, but unfortunately lost time behind Stroll and that allowed Vettel to catch-up and overtake Pierre after the pitstop.

“At the restart, we changed from the Hards to the Softs and Pierre completed a really good manoeuvre against Leclerc to put himself into third position. It’s an unbelievable result and both the team and Pierre deserve it, as we were very competitive here from FP1 onwards.”

Honda enjoyed a good day and looked set for four of their cars finishing in the top six until fate decided otherwise. Nevertheless a big day for the Red Bull organisation.

“It was a sensational race from the very beginning,” added Tost in the team report. “I want to say congratulations to Red Bull Racing, Honda and Perez today, it was a fantastic victory.

“Unfortunately, Max who was leading and was in my opinion the fastest man on the track, lost it at the very last minute of a great race from his side. However, the important thing is that he still leads the Championship,” concluded Tost.