Pierre Gasly had high hopes for the Emilia Romagna GP, his team’s home race, but the AlphaTauri driver was left chasing from behind when a wet tyre gamble went the wrong way.
The Frenchman’s P5 qualifying performance on Saturday at Imola confirmed the strong pace of AlphaTauri’s AT02 and augured well for race day, with Gasly seen as a dark horse in the 63-lap event.
But team and driver’s choice to fit a wet tyre at the start when the bulk of the field opted for mediums was a bold make-or-break strategy.
However, a half-dry track that never got worse was not what Gasly had banked on, the track conditions forcing the AlphaTauri charger to swap for inters on lap 14, after which he endured a long afternoon that nevertheless concluded with a P8 finish, achieved thanks to his valiant efforts and to the retirements of Valtteri Bottas and George Russell.
“I need to have a look at the whole race,” he said on Sunday. “Obviously a lot of things happened and from the start, it was difficult for us.
“At some point, I guess we were screwed, as we were waiting for the track to be drier.
“Yeah, it clearly didn’t work out for us at the start but then after the restart we had a couple of battles and managed to save a couple of points.
“We need to have a look, exactly, at what could have been better but for sure, it wasn’t a great Sunday for us.”
Gasly insisted the ill-fated wet tyre strategic choice was a signed off by both himself and the team.
“Honestly, [it was] very very difficult,” he admitted.
“We decided to start with the wets, and I was in favour, the team was in favour, we thought we would try it; in the end it turned out we were the only ones out there and there was just no grip at all, really.
“At some point we were last in the race. Starting P5, it was clearly not what we expected and we wanted.
“And then after the restart I think I was P14, I tried to come back and use more of the pace of the car on the dry and we managed to save a couple of points and finish P8, but yes, for sure, it wasn’t a great afternoon for us.”
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