Formula 1 news: I think I am at fault here. I think the reason why both, Pierre and George are suddenly lost for answers is that I may have praised them a bit too much. Then again, they were doing a sensational job in cars that aren’t meant to be doing the said jobs!
In an F1 world, when you rake in the success, the big points finishes, the occasional podiums, and wins if you’re lucky enough, it makes you happy, confident, motivated, all that positivity jazz. However, when you do the opposite, you come crashing down.
Perhaps, it’s not just you, but your fans, admirers of your work as well, who feel rather sad over the sudden drop in pace. I think I am that kind of person as I write this piece. Nobody knew coming into this year that Gasly would be so quick, so reliable, so consistent. Nobody even knew that Russell will score a podium, in a Williams!
But, they say change is the only thing constant. And in the F1 world, if you’re changing for the bad, you’re basically written off for the season. True story.
Qatar Grand Prix 2021: Gasly is shocked; AlphaTauri can’t find answers
Early into the Qatar GP weekend, it was made pretty evident that Pierre looks set to be a threat for the Ferrari, McLaren boys. Even Bottas. The Frenchman was consistently posting race runs, was on the pace from the word go. It was as if the AT02 was made for the Losail International Circuit.
Then came Qualifying, and he lined up in P4 for Sunday’s race, but he actually started from the front row alongside Lewis Hamilton thanks to penalties for Bottas & Verstappen.
It was expected out of him to challenge for the lead going into T1 as he was on the Softs and Lewis was on the Mediums. But then it all changed…
Soon after the race went underway, Gasly started to drop back, and once he made his first pitstop, he fell behind and was struck in traffic for most of the race. The AT star then pitted for the second time and had to remain behind Sebastian Vettel to finish in P11.
Qatar Grand Prix 2021: Frustration running high
“It was very, very frustrating, our pace was shocking basically. At the moment we don’t really have the answer. We tried to go for an aggressive two-stop strategy but the pace was never there. It was shocking. I tried to push as hard as I could in the car, and even with fresher tyres than Fernando, I was miles away when he was on used tyres. It was so frustrating.”
Following an incident in the latter stages of Q3 wherein Gasly went over the deadly kerb right before the pit entry and damaged his front wing and floor, he wonders if that had an impact on the race. “We changed the front wing and floor after yesterday’s incident in Quali, I don’t know if it had an impact.
“We need to review everything because I was even pushing really hard on the tyre, and the lap times were never there today.”
Qatar Grand Prix 2021: The situation at Williams is similar
For a team and driver like Williams Racing and George Russell, the Qatar round was another shot to its wounds as they seem to be quite frustrated over the lack of pace. Stats say that ever since the Russian GP, Russell has finished in 15th, 14th, 16th, 13th, and 17th positions.
Furthermore, GR has also lost his ‘Mr. Saturday’ confidence as he was out-qualified by his teammate Nicholas Latifi for the first time in his Williams career in Brazil.
“I think everybody within the team is a little bit frustrated at the moment. We need to go away and understand what’s changed. I think we’ve got a few indications. We normally had difficult Sundays but we had really great Saturdays to sort of compensate.
“But for whatever reason, the pace hasn’t been there on a Saturday either, so we need to make the most of it in these last two and make sure we seal that P8 because that’s the main thing for us at the moment.”
The Brit who’s off to Mercedes next year mentions that part reason for the lack of pace was that the team was unable to get the tyres in the correct working window, something that at a fast-flowing circuit such as Losail, proves to be costly.
“The limitation we’ve had was switching the tyres on. If you look throughout all of the practice, every single lap we were improving. Q1, we did the fast-slow-fast sequence and I improved both times on the second lap. Q2, we sort of put it all on the table for that one timed lap and just couldn’t get the tyres working for the first two corners and that sort of sets you up for the rest of the lap.”