Pierre Gasly has continued his impressive 2021 form with a fourth place in qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix, finishing behind two Mercedes and Max Verstappen.
Gasly has made the best out of his new lease on life in Formula 1, after his ruthless demotion from Red Bull mid 2019, for not stacking up well against then-teammate Max Verstappen, as his performances with AlphaTauri have been nothing less than spectacular, with multiple podiums and that famous win at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
Gasly continues to deliver
Gasly’s form continued in 2021, with Qatar being the latest venue of excellence for the Frenchman, as he qualified best of the rest behind the top three runners, and that was despite going off on his final Q3 lap damaging his front wing, blowing his right front tyre, hence losing his final chance to improve, but his strong banker Q3 lap, meant that he kept fourth.
“I’m super happy with Qualifying, it’s been pretty amazing and we’re right behind Mercedes and Max again which is great,” Gasly said in AlphaTauri’s press release.
“I was going even faster in the last lap, improving by one and a half tenths, but I went over the kerb at Turn 15 and I lost the front wing, which then blew the front right tyre,” he revealed.
“At the end of the day, it was still a really strong Qualifying and we’re in a good position for tomorrow.
“The Alpines are pretty close again, so I think it’ll be another intense battle in the race,” the Frenchman warned.
Alonso relishing Losail
The close Alpine that Gasly must worry about is that of two-time World Champion Fernando Alonso, known for his blindingly fast race starts, and who will line up fifth on the race grid.
“I think the whole weekend has been positive for us,” Alonso said in the team’s media brief. “The car felt strong in all sessions and seems to enjoy the high-speed corners here.
The Spaniard was enjoying his time around Losail International Circuit so much, that he said: “I told the team if they gave me enough fuel, I would be driving all night long and I would wait for them here tomorrow morning!
“It seems some circuits are better than others for our package and Qatar seems to be one of those.
“We need to study why we miss this performance in other circuits,” Alonso demanded.
“But the points are scored tomorrow, so we need to maximise our starting slot. We start on the clean side of the grid and there are a few different tyre strategies for us to be aware.
“We have some question marks, but it’s better to solve these from fifth,” the 40-year-old concluded.
— Alpine F1 Team (@AlpineF1Team) November 20, 2021
Sebastian Vettel solid in Qatar
Vettel showed the worth of his experience, getting the best our of a mediocre package at a new track, and advanced into Q3 despite finishing tenth, with the quadruple F1 Champion claiming that traffic and Gasly’s incident late in Q3 denied him a proper chance of improving after slowing down under yellow flags.
“I think we are feeling a bit more competitive this weekend and I had a good day overall,” Vettel said.
“We managed to beat a Ferrari, a McLaren and even a Red Bull in Q2 so I think we can be happy,” he insisted.
“Unfortunately, during my final run in Q3, I encountered traffic and then the yellow flags prevented any chance of improving, which was a shame.
“Overall, it was a decent qualifying session and we will see what we can do in the race.
“Overtaking here is difficult but not impossible and it will be a new experience for all of us,” the 34-year-old summed up.
With Carlos Sainz – who qualified seventh – being under investigation for ignoring the yellow flags, Vettel might just have a chance of starting the race one place higher, should Sainz receive a grid penalty. (Follow me on Twitter @MallakJad)