Saturday, March 2, 2024

Pierre Gasly: “It’s important to come out the blocks quickly and be comfortable with the car”

Pierre Gasly started on the front row of the grid in the first Qatar Grand Prix back in 2021, and although the Frenchman missed out on points that weekend, he felt it was a strong weekend for him.

The BWT Alpine F1 Team driver, then racing for Scuderia AlphaTauri, inherited second place on the grid thanks to penalties for both Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas, but he was unable to convert his starting position into points after a difficult Sunday at the Lusail International Circuit.

Gasly, who was in Qatar last year for the World Cup final, is hoping for a better result this weekend as the FIA Formula 1 World Championship returns to the country, and he knows that, with it being a sprint weekend, that Alpine need to hit the ground running early to maximise their potential.

“I really like Qatar,” said Gasly.  “I was actually there for the Football World Cup last December, so I certainly have fond memories there, even if the Final did not go the way of France.

“Even so, a fantastic experience to be at one of the biggest sporting events in the world and something I will remember forever.

“I enjoyed racing in Qatar in 2021. At the time, it was a strong performance where I qualified in fourth and ended up on the front row of the grid for the race. The race did not go to plan, but I like the track as it’s fast and flowing with overtaking possible.

“We have the Sprint Race on Saturday – that went well for us in Spa – so it’s important to come out the blocks quickly and be comfortable with the car right from Friday Practice.”

“We have good memories from that weekend as a team in 2021” – Esteban Ocon

Team-mate Esteban Ocon says getting the set-up right this weekend could be rewarding as he looks forward to his second Qatar Grand Prix weekend.

Ocon finished fifth in the inaugural race under the floodlights in Lusail that also saw his then team-mate Fernando Alonso claim a podium finish on what was a good weekend for the team.

And the Frenchman, who currently sits twelfth in the Drivers’ Championship heading into the final six races of the season, is hopeful of another good result this weekend as they bid to end a difficult season on a high.

“It’s nice to come back to Qatar having not raced there for a couple of years,” said Ocon.  “We have good memories from that weekend as a team in 2021.

“On my side, I like this track as I think it has a nice flow to it, with a lot of medium and high-speed corners. And when you add the long straight, I think it offers a lot of flexibility in terms of set-up options for all teams, which means that if you get it right, the rewards could be great.

“I am looking forward to racing there again, push for a good result with the team and put on a good show for the fans!”

Esteban Ocon finished fifth in Qatar back in 2021 – Credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team