The young French driver was on duty for Red Bull Racing on Tuesday after Max Verstappen was given the team’s filming run last week and the opening test day on Monday.
With Tuesday thus being Pierre’s first time at the wheel of the RB15, he took his time to get up to speed and familiarise himself with the car and finished the morning session in P5. His best time was 1:19.814 and he completed just over a Grand Prix distance by that time.
While the morning session went well, the afternoon was less so. 23 laps in total over the first three hours after the break and then, suddenly, the red flags came out. Gasly went off while on a push lap. Having been quick in Sector 1 and setting a personal best Sector 2, he lost the rear of the car coming through the kerbing separating Turns 11 & 12. Pitched off the track backwards, he went into the barriers backwards and hard enough to cause terminal damage. While he was unhurt and clambered free, the day’s driving was done and he made his way back to the garage to explain his mistake: “This afternoon, I was pushing and out of Turn 10 I went on the power, upshifted to fifth and lost the rear of the car. It was quite annoying to lose the last hour of testing.”
Despite the error, he remained chirpy and explained that he was very satisfied overall with how his first day back driving had gone: “The day was positive and I was really happy to be back behind the wheel after the winter break”.
“The first feeling is good. It was important for me to get comfortable in the car and we managed to do more than 90 laps. Apart from that, we tested a lot of things and got a lot of good information, there is a good potential. Of course we still have a lot of work to do over the next six days of testing but for me, aside from the last bit, the first day was great.”
Guillaume Rocquelin, Head of Race Engineering, was philosophical about the lost track time, saying it wasn’t the end of the world: “It happens.”
“Prior to Pierre’s spin we had been doing a lot of short runs to gather data and there is quite a reset after that. Pierre was then on a quick lap and as you’d expect he was finding the limit. He’s understandably not happy but it’s not a disaster. We have a bit of work on this evening but we’ll be ready for tomorrow.”
“Aside from that, Pierre had a good first day in the car. The target this morning was to get more miles on the car, to give him a good feel for it and to cycle through tyres. There were some background tests happening but it was mainly about Pierre getting comfortable. In the afternoon, we switched to data gathering over short runs and that was the focus up until late afternoon and the spin.”