Life as Daniel Ricciardo’s replacement at Red Bull has not improved for Pierre Gasly, knocked out in the first period of qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old Frenchman was eliminated while sitting in the garage for the end of the session.
Lap times tumbled as the track sped up with the clock ticking down, leaving Red Bull to regret their decision not to send Gasly out for a second run.
“I think we’ve been quite optimistic and we didn’t expect such a track evolution and the pack to be so close like this,” the young driver said.
“It’s pretty tough because I think I felt pretty good in practice three … clearly the track evolution was big and it was quite a surprise.”
Q1: Full classification
A puncture made Kubica's situation worse 💥
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 16, 2019
— Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1) March 16, 2019
Max Verstappen made it through to Q2 in 10th place to suggest Gasly would have had no problems progressing if he had been let out.
“We’re clearly not exactly where we would like to be but I think slowly, session after session, we were going in the right direction,” Gasly added.
Verstappen went on to qualify fourth, squeezing in between Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Charles Leclerc.
Australian Daniel Ricciardo, in his first qualifying session as a Renault driver, briefly sat in the elimination places before rising up to 13th to reach Q2.
The home hope qualified 12th as his new team failed to impress.
Robert Kubica, the story of the weekend, hit the wall and punctured a rear tyre to be outshone by his rookie teammate George Russell.
“I think I can be pretty proud of myself,” Russell said.
“We all know where the car is and my only comparison is Robert. I was pretty pleased with myself when the car crossed the line and I can leave today with my head held high.”
Fascinating. Kubica admitted that the reason he hit the wall was because, for the first time this weekend, the car worked. So much more grip he could nail Turn 9 and carried so much speed through 10 be smacked the wall.
— Will Buxton (@wbuxtonofficial) March 16, 2019