#15 Pierre Gasly (FRA – Team Mugen Honda HR-417E)
Qualifying 1: 13th – Race Grid: 13th – Race Result: 19th
Qualifying 1: 5th – Race Grid: 5th – Race Result: 7th
Super Formula championship: 14th – 1 point – after 3 of 9 races
Rescuing a point after a troubled start to the weekend in Japan, Pierre Gasly knows that there is good deal more to be gained as he makes progress with both the car and the communications in his Super Formula campaign with Team Mugen Honda. The 21-year-old Frenchman picked up seventh place in Race 2 at Okayama.
"It hasn't been an easy weekend," explained the Red Bull Junior. "For the first qualifying we kind of screwed ourselves, because we changed the set-up on the car which took quite a lot of time, longer than we expected and basically we didn't have much time left on the clock and I didn't have time to warm up the tyres."
Cold tyre qualifying
"So I had to push straight away and the tyres were cold so I could only get P13 in Qualy. It was of course disappointing because I think we had the potential for P6 or P7 which would have been a bit better though still not fantastic."
"In Race 1 we had a contact in the first laps, I got hit by another driver which broke my front wing and we had to pit to change it," stated Gasly and as the picture above shows the wing was rubbing on the left front tyre. "Race 1 had no pit stop so that really cost us. So basically the race was over for us so we tried to use it for a practice for the second race."
Better for Race 2
"Sunday we managed to improve the car for Qualy and qualified P5 and first Honda so I think we got the best out of our car and the Toyota's did look a bit stronger this weekend. The car felt better, still there was room for improvement but it was better than Saturday."
"In Race 2 I had a really good start and tried to pass for P4 and we got four abreast, one started to turn left so Sekiguchi who was next to me had to go left but I was there so got pushed into the grass."
"So I lost a position which was a shame because I had a good run before turn one to pass P4 so instead I dropped to P6 and we pitted on the first lap. After that we just went flat out for the whole 50 laps, our pace wasn't mega and we lost a position to Kobayashi who went with a different strategy, went longer and that worked better."
More to come
"Basically we just lacked pace compered to the Toyotas in front and managed to finish P7. I think it was the best we could do today, lacking a bit of speed plus with the car I think we need a bit of work to understand the tyres exactly because there are things that are still not working for us and we don't really understand, like tyre temperatures and pressures."
"We get some strange feedback in the car with the tyre performance, with the tyre just sliding on the track so we still need to work and analyse. The good thing is that we have tried many different things with my team mates and ended up with very different settings so hopefully there is something to get out of it."
Time to improve
"There is now one month before Fuji to improve so it is going forward slowly, we are making improvements for sure, not as quick as I would like but hopefully we can be in better shape at the next race and fight for the top positions. We tested there so it's a track that I know and testing went well, we were third fastest so we can expect a much better weekend in Fuji."
"As for this weekend, the positives were the championship point we put on the board and the improvements we made in the car. As for Okayama, well I can't say I loved it that much, we didn't have a great weekend but it certainly was an experience," concluded Gasly, still managing his characteristic broad smile.