Pierre Gasly has Strange Saturday in Malaysia
In 2012, Sebastian Vettel famously said Narain Karthikeyan went for a “Sunday drive” during the F1 race in Malaysia.
Fast forward to 2016 in GP2 and the same could be said of Pierre Gasly, who had a bit of a strange “Saturday drive” in the feature race at the Sepang International Circuit.
The Frenchman, who started from pole position, spectacularly fell to tenth place at the beginning of the event as teammate Antonio Giovinazzi took the lead away from Russian Time’s Raffaele Marciello.
Sometimes drivers do make mistakes at the start of races, but they find a way back up the order. The interesting thing was that he couldn’t find a way back up the order here. He was marooned in his position as his teammate appeared to have the speed and be able to use it out in the front.
After being unable to make much progress on his initial set of medium tires, he pitted early, after just six of the 29 laps, to roll the dice and move onto the hard tires and try something to help him.
However, he didn’t have speed on hards compared to others on mediums. Gasly came out of the pit lane in 19th and managed to move up to 14th as other drivers made their stops. He was 5.5 seconds behind Racing Engineering’s Jordan King at this point.
The problem he had was that other drivers were either already on mediums or would be going onto a set of mediums and have much faster tires.
He moved up to 10th as more drivers pitted. When two drivers ahead, Trident’s Luca Ghiotto and Campos Racing’s Mitch Evans, who had been one-two, pitted, a critical moment in the race came.
This was the moment where worrying signs began as Ghiotto got past Gasly, even with a difficult pit stop, with Evans just behind. The drivers had used the ‘overcut,’ staying out for much longer on their sets of hards, to help them gain positions. Gasly was no longer staying put, but going backward
Evans got past Gasly at turn 15 on lap 21 for ninth place.
“I’m sliding everywhere,” Gasly reported by lap 23, after being put outside of the points positions on this lap as Rapax’s Gustav Malja passed him superbly around the outside at turn one. After making a brave early stop, his tires were now giving up, another disappointing thing for him to endure.
He fell 2.7 seconds behind Malja on lap 25 and was just 1.1 ahead of Carlin’s Sergio Canamasas. The Spaniard was quickly the next driver past as he dropped to 12th.
Gasly crossed the line in 11th as MP Motorsport’s Oliver Rowland dropped to P12 after a spin on his used tires, managing to get past on the start-finish straight in the final meters of his race, finishing exactly 0.0 seconds ahead of the British racer. He finished 2.3 behind Canamasas.
To make matters worse, Giovinazzi went on to win the race to take Gasly off the top spot in the Drivers’ Championship. The Italian driver now has 189 points, 11 more than his teammate.
He will surely be hoping he has had his dose of bad luck out of the way ahead of a championship fight in the final three races.
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