Gasly 'didn't expect' Super Formula title tilt
25 September 2017 – Red Bull junior Pierre Gasly says he did not expect to be in contention for the Super Formula title as a rookie, after scoring another podium at Sugo.
Reigning GP2 champion Gasly was placed at the Honda-powered Mugen outfit and began the year with two non-scores, before picking up points at Okayama and Fuji.
Gasly surged into title contention with back-to-back wins at Motegi and Autopolis, before finishing just 0.243s behind Yuhi Sekiguchi at Sugo, to take second place.
As a result, Gasly will head to next month's double-header at Suzuka just half a point behind Hiroaki Ishiura.
"It was a new track for me, a bit of a crazy Japanese track, pretty old school, no run off, walls just five metres off the track, it makes it quite exciting," Gasly explained.
"I had a great start again, starting P3 and I got to P2, side to side with P1 into Turn 1, but I was on the outside, so could not make the move into the lead.
"After that the pace was good for 10 laps and then we started to have some brake problems with huge locking front and rear.
"After about 30 laps, like mid-race, the air temperature started to go down, the car felt better, the brakes as well, so I could push again.
"The performance was good, I think I was seven seconds behind Sekiguchi at mid-race then I started to come back a little bit.
"[After the pit-stop] the pace was really good, I caught him and got to within about three-tenths on the last lap.
"Maybe with one more lap I could have tried something.
"I had used up all my overtakes, I pressed the button like five times out of the last corner to see if there was one left but there was nothing!"
On his championship chances, Gasly said: "It's a great position to be in before the last event. I didn't really expect it at the beginning of the season, to be able to fight for the title in my first year.
"I'm also happy for Honda, the second Honda [driver] in the championship is P9, while I am second.
"I will try and do my best to be in a position to fight for the title in the last race."
Gasly is aiming to become the first rookie to win the Super Formula title since Ralf Schumacher in 1996, when the championship was called Formula Nippon.