Pierre Gasly’s Saturday in Monaco was about as good as it gets for the Toro Rosso driver, who qualified in tenth place for Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Earlier in the day he was a surprise eighth fastest in final practice. That raised hopes that he might be able to make it into the final round of qualifying, for only the second time this season.
When it came to the crunch, the 23-year-old Frenchman duly delivered on those expectations to start tomorrow’s race in the top ten.
“I’m super-happy to get to Q3, and it’s a good starting position – especially on this track.
“We were only a tenth from P6, which is great and not great,” he said afterwards. “Of course it’s frustrating as you think you could have always found that extra tenth.
“But I think we can be happy with P10 today,” he insisted. “We knew that in Monaco some opportunities could come up, and the potential has been pretty good since the beginning of the weekend.”
Gasly suggested that the team’s form this weekend proved they were very much back in the running after transitioning from Renault to Honda power units over the winter.
“We caught back up to the midfield,” he said. “I felt good with the car today. I think we made a good step compared to Thursday and to the last few races.
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“I’m feeling more and more comfortable in the car, so I need to keep taking that experience and keep improving,” he said. “Every weekend we’re learning more. And definitely this weekend it looks like everything is working quite well.”
Like many drivers taking part in their first Monaco Grand Prix, Gasly found the experience of racing on the iconic street circuit to be truly eye-opening.
“In FP1 and FP2 I just realised how much quicker it is compared to Formula 2. Just through Tabac, it’s unbelievable.
“Honestly it is so, so fast,” he said. “You get there at 200km/h, try and be as close as possible to the wall, then usually on the exit you need to fight quite a bit.
“Believe me, it’s really tough. You get quite sweaty out there. It’s just unbelievable, super-fast. With this car it is just amazing to drive.”
Qualifying is especially important at Monaco because overtaking here is notoriously difficult. But Gasly aims to take any chances that present themselves during the race.
“The most important is to get a clean start,” he said. “Try to make a position or two if possible and then after try something with strategy. Maybe an undercut or overcut, depending how the race goes.
“It’s super-tough to overtake so we’ll have to see,” he added. “As we’ve seen in the past, anything can happen around here.
“Hopefully we can have a great race tomorrow and score some good points.”
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