#15 Pierre Gasly (FRA – Team Mugen Honda HR-417E)
Qualifying: 5th – Race Grid: 5th – Race Result: 1st
Super Formula championship: 2nd – 25 points – after 6 of 9 races
Back to back wins, Motegi and Autopolis, have propelled Red Bull Junior Pierre Gasly up to second in Japan's Super Formula championship. The 21-year-old Frenchman again put together a perfect combination of extreme skill and tyre strategy to win on the fast and demanding circuit.
"It was a fantastic weekend in Autopolis with the second win in a row, just amazing. It started pretty well in practice, I had a good feeling with the car, we tested many things and it was pretty good."
"For qualifying it was a bit strange but we had to use a medium in Q1 then a soft in Q2 and soft in Q3 but the car was good, it wasn't fantastic but it was good and we managed to get into Q3, like all the races since the beginning of the year."
On the grid in fifth and a change of plan
"So we qualified fifth, a good position to start for the race and be able to fight for the top positions. I think we did the best we could with P5, my team mate was P7 so we missed a bit of pace to fight for pole but still I think it was a good result."
"Today for the race, at the beginning I wanted to start on mediums but then on the grid I saw that all the guys in front of me started on mediums. It is quite a difficult track to overtake with all the high speed corners and not very long straights so I thought that it would be difficult if we had the same strategy. So on the grid I asked the team if we could change strategy and go the opposite, soft tyres first then pit for the mediums. That's what we did so we started on the soft."
A plan that worked
"I had a really good start, I think my best one so far. I was P2 after the first corner so that was good and I was really close to Nojiri who was P1 for all the first stint. I tried a couple of times to pass him but It wasn't possible. Really difficult to follow close, I was like 5 or 6 tenths but I missed two tenths to really be able to overtake."
"I was I think less than a second behind him for the whole first stint and felt really good with the softs but I felt that the win could go away if I didn't manage to pass him. We had really good pace compared with the others so we decided to pit around lap 25 I think and switch to the mediums."
A great car
"We got out from the pit virtually at that time in P2 and straight away I could do some quick laps and we were virtually first, just waiting for the others to stop. So I had to manage the tyres because we were concerned about degradation so I had to save the tyres for the end of the race and still be as quick as possible."
"I had Rosenqvist behind me and not too far, so I had to manage the gap with him and keep pushing. The car was mega and we actually had quite low degradation, I tried to drive a bit in GP2 style and save the tyres as much as I could and we ended up with the second win."
"So we are now P2 in the championship and great to see that we are making progress every weekend. We are going in the right direction and that is so important. It is amazing, six races and already two wins in the championship, we are the first to win two races this year."