Gasly “very pleased for the whole team” as both cars qualify in the top 8

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Last weekend, Alpine had one of the worst weekends you can imagine for a Formula One team in Baku. Everything that could go wrong went wrong from Friday to Sunday.

Nonetheless, it’s a different story in Miami just a few days later. Pierre Gasly will start today’s race in P5, with Esteban Ocon in 8th.

Photo credit: BWT Alpine F1 Team

The Alpine duo already showed strong pace in FP3 as they finished P5 and P6 in that session. They converted it into promising grid positions for the race.

Gasly was understandably more upbeat compared to six days ago.

“I think generally speaking I’m just very pleased for the whole team,” he stated. “We managed to qualify both cars in the top 8 and after the tough weekend in Baku, everybody was kind of disappointed with the result and the pace we showed there. It was important to bounce back this weekend and that’s what we did.

“I think in the practices we managed to show some good speed, managed to do the lap when it mattered in Q3. I did a decent lap with the used tyre which put us in P5.

“I’m definitely pleased, we have a good chance for tomorrow and from there everything can happen. We’ll push and we’ll see the outcome but I think big points are on the table for us.”

A red flag caused by the crash of Charles Leclerc benefitted Gasly in some ways as he starts ahead of the Monegasque and Verstappen.

However, he thinks beating Kevin Magnussen was possible if a second run could have been completed. 0.019s was the gap between the pair in Q3. The French driver was 0.061s ahead in Q2.

The 2020 Italian GP winner also doesn’t want to get excited about the result as the points are given out in the race.

“I think objectively Charles and Max could have been in front of us and that put us in P7, but at the same time it was so small with Kevin [the gap],” said the Frenchman. “With another lap, I think we could have got him as well, we’re talking 2 hundredths.

“I think generally speaking we were between 6th and 8th on pure pace, and that’s positive to see. Clearly this track seems to suit our car better.

“I think what’s important is not to get too excited, it was a strong quali but points are scored tomorrow and the race is going to be long.”

The transformation in pace for Alpine this weekend sums up the unpredictable nature of the pecking order this year behind Red Bull.

In Baku, Haas and Alpine never looked like reaching Q3 or scoring points. Yesterday, it was P4, P5 and P8 for three of those four cars.

Gasly explained why he thinks the Enstone-based team are so much more competitive this weekend.

“I have my ideas [on why they’re better in Miami],” he stated. “I think we got some answers but obviously it’s completely different.

“In terms of bumpiness, it’s very different. Baku is really bumpy and seemed to struggle a bit there. I think this is one factor. [There is] more high speed corners on this track with the first sector.

“It was a difficult format, we couldn’t really touch the car after FP1, we started from the wrong foot and I think we paid the price after that.

“I’m coming back to today with the best quali of the year with Alpine and pleased with the performance.”