Pierre Gasly's GPU column: My F1 debut

Pierre Gasly's GPU column: My F1 debut

17 October 2017 – It has been an eventful period for GPUpdate.net columnist Pierre Gasly, having made his Formula 1 debut with Toro Rosso, competing at the Malaysian and Japanese Grands Prix. In his latest piece, Pierre reflects on a whirlwind couple of weekends in the STR12, and looks ahead to the Super Formula title finale.

Hi everyone,

I'm writing to you from Japan, where I'm getting ready for the Super Formula finale, after relaxing at home in France last weekend!

Obviously since my last column I made my Formula 1 debut with Toro Rosso in Malaysia, and it's been a busy period!

It was really amazing for me to get the call to race. Basically I flew from Japan to Malaysia, so I was supposed to go there as a reserve driver, and when I got to Malaysia on Monday night I received a text saying that I might be racing with Toro Rosso during the weekend. I got really excited about it, I tried to sleep on Monday night, even though I was really excited. On Tuesday morning when I woke up I had the confirmation it was going to happen, of course for me it was really good news. I was really happy to finally get the reward of all the hard work, all of the results that I had before Formula 1, so I was really happy that in the end all the hard work paid off. Of course it was a nice feeling and I was really excited to get it started.

For me, Malaysia was such a crazy weekend, in all aspects, there were so many things I had to go through before the race weekend with the team to basically learn all the procedures. Of course, I had testing with Red Bull, but Toro Rosso is a different team with different people, different engineers, a different car and steering, so I had to go through all these learning processes and procedures. It was quite busy, my first weekend in Formula 1, it was crazy with all the media. Honestly, I think since the first day I arrived in the paddock until Sunday night after the race I didn't have five minutes to rest! It was just really crazy times!

I think it was a positive weekend overall, because it's never easy to arrive at a team, not even in the middle of the season, but towards the end of the year, without any testing before, and to just to go for the first race like this. I tried to do my best, be really focused on the job, try to learn as well, as much as I could next to Carlos [Sainz Jr.]. In the end in qualifying I was one and a half tenths behind him, I felt I was pretty happy, I did the best I could at the time with my experience but I could feel that for me there was room for improvement and a there were a few things that were not ideal, and that we could improve for the future, but to be one and a half tenths from Carlos was positive.

The first race was also a good experience, and quite positive overall. Of course as driver I would have liked to have fought for a better position, but it was quite difficult in Malaysia for the team overall, and we did the best we could.

Then we headed to Japan, for the race at Suzuka, where I'd competed in Super Formula earlier in the year.

I think overall Suzuka was kind of more difficult for us in terms of performance, I didn't feel as comfortable in the car compared to Malaysia, so it was a bit weird. We found out some things in the race, but it was too late for the weekend. I think it felt like we didn't really get the best out of all the sessions, like in qualifying, for example, with Romain [Grosjean]'s crash. But of course I pushed too much in the first run and had quite a big moment in the first sector which cost me five or six tenths, which cost me Q2 in the end, because there was a red flag on my second run and could not make it, but already after Turn 3 on my second run I was already five-tenths quicker compared to my best lap. It was a bit of a shame, as I think Q2 was possible, so I was a bit disappointed after qualifying.

Then in the race it was again positive, I managed to keep up with both Haas', which I think were quicker overall during the weekend, so I think it was really good. After that, with 20 laps to go I was catching [Felipe] Massa for 10th, so I think we were looking good for points, then I had big lock-up because I was struggling with the locking almost all race, locking a bit more, a bit more, a bit more, a bit more every lap... then I had a big lock up into Turn 11. We did the second pit-stop, and after that we could have fought with Massa for 10th place, but we had the VSC at the end that stopped all our hopes for points. We finished 13th; we could have been better, we didn't really make the best out of the race, but I think overall there were some positive things as well to take with us after the weekend, some promising stuff for the next races. In terms of experience it's been huge and really positive, I always feel more comfortable and more confident lap after lap, so it's going in the right direction.

In terms of my first Formula 1 experience, as an official driver, it's probably even crazier than what I thought. You're just so busy during the weekend that it's even more than what I expected, you don't have five minutes to yourself just to rest, you're going from one place to another one, from one meeting to another, engineers, media, then you need to eat, basically it's really intense – they're intense weekends. In terms of driving it's been fantastic because these cars, especially the new ones, are amazing to drive, they're super quick, especially around Suzuka in the first sector – it was just amazing, a lot of pleasure, basically it was just a pure joy, all weekend. I was just so happy from Thursday until Sunday, I was even more in love with Formula 1 after these two weekends!

I was also racing guys I'd watched on TV as a 10-year-old. It was quite insane, but it was really cool as well. It was a dream when I was a kid, since I started karting, to be in Formula 1 as well, to make it. I was watching all the races with Fernando Alonso, with Lewis Hamilton, with Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen as well, all these guys. In Malaysia to be with them was in a way a bit funny, but then after when you're racing, as a racing driver, as soon as the lights switch off you're just thinking about the performance and what you need to do in the car to make your result better, and you don't really think about who you're racing with! But, definitely, to be in the weekend with all the media stuff with them, and all these things, is quite special. I've been enjoying it, it has been really good and they've been amazing experiences, it's just as I said... it made me love Formula 1 even more!

Of course I'm excited about Super Formula this weekend; it's always exciting to fight for the championship at the last race, so it's a bit similar to last year in GP2! I think at the moment, definitely looking at the last few races, we're in good shape. I feel good in the car, we've made progress with the car, we should hopefully be fast at Suzuka, and we'll try everything to get it. It's not going to be easy as Hiroaki Ishiura was fast at the first race in Suzuka and also Toyota is usually slightly better than us at Suzuka, but if we manage to do everything right and just work on ourselves, and have a smooth weekend, we will have our chance.

Finally, I have to thank all the people that supported me since I started racing. In a career to make it to Formula 1 you need to deal with many different teams, in karting, in single-seaters, I've worked with many different people, all these people each year helped me to reach my goal and to make my dream happen. I'm really thankful to all these people, and also all the people who supported me through social media. In a career you have really good times and also some others that are a bit more difficult. For me, there's been some really good support to help me reach my goal and to make it to Formula 1, so I have to say a big, big thanks to all these people who supported me to get there, and now there is a bigger challenge ahead of me and I'm really excited about it!

Until next time!

Pierre

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Monday 20 November 2017

  2. 11:12

    Overview: Abu Dhabi Grand Prix schedule

    F1
  3. In photos: Rise and fall of Formula V8 3.5 11:02

    In photos: Rise and fall of Formula V8 3.5

    World Series Formula V8 3.5 has closed its doors after two decades of competition, bringing down the curtain on a category that…

    World Series
  4. Video: World's Fastest Gamer finals - Day 9 09:40

    Video: World's Fastest Gamer finals - Day 9

    Sunday was a day of rest for World's Faster Gamer finalists Rudy and Freek, but the coaches were as busy as ever studying the…

    F1
  5. Merhi returns to Rapax for Formula 2 finale 09:28

    Merhi returns to Rapax for Formula 2 finale

    Roberto Merhi will return to Rapax for this weekend's Formula 2 season finale in Abu Dhabi. Merhi first appeared in F2 this…

    F2
  6. Habsburg 'still proud' amid dramatic finish 09:22

    Habsburg 'still proud' amid dramatic finish

    Carlin's Ferdinand Habsburg underlined that he was not prepared to settle for second at the Macau Grand Prix, after crashing out…

    F3
  7. Prema signs Gelael for 2018 F2 campaign 09:00

    Prema signs Gelael for 2018 F2 campaign

    Prema has confirmed that Sean Gelael will race for the team in next year's Formula 2 championship, the first driver signed up to…

    F2
  8. Video: DTM 2017 season highlights reel 05:46

    Video: DTM 2017 season highlights reel

    Watch the official DTM Movie from the 2017 season, featuring exclusive footage and insights from the teams and drivers involved…

    DTM
  9. Sunday 19 November 2017

  10. Video: Ricciardo visits NASCAR paddock 16:42

    Video: Ricciardo visits NASCAR paddock

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo visits a NASCAR event for his first time and meets Dale Earnhardt Jr and Chase Elliott…

    F1
  11. Runner-up Norris admits disappointment 15:42

    Runner-up Norris admits disappointment

    Lando Norris conceded he was "a little disappointed" to miss out on victory at the Macau Grand Prix, after finishing runner-up…

    F3
  12. Video: Macau Grand Prix - Sunday highlights 15:34

    Video: Macau Grand Prix - Sunday highlights

    Watch highlights from Sunday's action at the Macau Grand Prix, which featured a dramatic finale to an enthralling Formula 3…

    F3
  13. Alonso completes 113 laps in WEC rookie test 13:31

    Alonso completes 113 laps in WEC rookie test

    McLaren Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso racked up 113 laps during the World Endurance Championship's rookie test in Bahrain on…

    F1
  14. Video: Alonso at the WEC rookie test 12:59

    Video: Alonso at the WEC rookie test

    Watch as Fernando Alonso gets accustomed to Toyota's TS050 HYBRID as he participates in the World Endurance Championship's…

    WEC
  15. Grosjean upbeat over Haas' 2017 display 12:42

    Grosjean upbeat over Haas' 2017 display

    Romain Grosjean reckons Haas has done "super well" in its second campaign in Formula 1, believing the team has made more…

    F1
  16. Video: WEC Bahrain 6 Hours highlights 11:38

    Video: WEC Bahrain 6 Hours highlights

    Watch race highlights from the 6 Hours of Bahrain, the final round of the 2017 World Endurance Championship, as several class…

    WEC
  17. 11:13

    Gallery: Alonso participates in LMP1 test

    WEC
  18. Ticktum 'couldn't believe' Macau outcome 10:55

    Ticktum 'couldn't believe' Macau outcome

    Daniel Ticktum revelled in victory at the Macau Grand Prix as he surged forwards from eighth on the grid to triumph at the…

    F3
  19. Sainz Jr. 'starting to feel at home' with Renault 10:26

    Sainz Jr. 'starting to feel at home' with Renault

    Carlos Sainz Jr. says he is beginning to become accustomed to his new surroundings at Renault, following his recent move from…

    F1
  20. Alonso gets first taste of LMP1 in Bahrain 09:45

    Alonso gets first taste of LMP1 in Bahrain

    Fernando Alonso completed his first laps in Toyota's LMP1 car during the World Endurance Championship's rookie test at the…

    LM
  21. 08:22

    Latest F3 photos: Sunday at Macau

    F3
  22. 08:20

    In full: Macau Grand Prix race results

    F3
  23. Ticktum triumphs at crazy Macau Grand Prix 08:19

    Ticktum triumphs at crazy Macau Grand Prix

    Red Bull-backed Daniel Ticktum claimed an incredible victory at the Macau Grand Prix, pulling off a double move for third…

    F3
  24. Video: World's Fastest Gamer - Day 8 05:42

    Video: World's Fastest Gamer - Day 8

    Catch up with the latest from McLaren's World's Fastest Gamer contest as the three finalists visit Carlin's simulator before the…

    F1
  25. Saturday 18 November 2017

  26. Toyota confirms Alonso LMP1 rookie test 20:57

    Toyota confirms Alonso LMP1 rookie test

    Toyota has confirmed that Fernando Alonso will participate for the team in the World Endurance Championship's rookie test at the…

    F1
  27. Video: Macau Grand Prix - Saturday highlights 15:38

    Video: Macau Grand Prix - Saturday highlights

    Watch highlights from Saturday's action at the Macau Grand Prix, which featured victory for Callum Ilott in the F3 qualification…

    Misc
  28. Ricciardo sees 'decent chance' to win finale 15:02

    Ricciardo sees 'decent chance' to win finale

    Daniel Ricciardo believes Red Bull holds a "decent chance" of taking victory at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he seeks to close…

    F1
  29. Video: Rosberg attends the BAMBI awards 13:15

    Video: Rosberg attends the BAMBI awards

    In his latest vlog, follow 2016 Formula 1 champion Nico Rosberg as he and wife Vivian attend the annual BAMBI awards in the…

    F1
  30. Patrick announces 2018 Indy 500 entry 12:58

    Patrick announces 2018 Indy 500 entry

    Danica Patrick says she will bring her competitive motorsport career to a close next May, after announcing her intentions to…

    Indy
  31. Binder beats Fittipaldi in V8 3.5 swansong 11:52

    Binder beats Fittipaldi in V8 3.5 swansong

    René Binder fended off team-mate and 2017 champion Pietro Fittipaldi to triumph in the last-ever Formula V8 3.5 Series race in…

    World Series
  32. Magnussen: 2017 my 'most fun' season 10:44

    Magnussen: 2017 my 'most fun' season

    Kevin Magnussen has labelled 2017 as his "most fun" season of competition, as he prepares to bring his first year with Haas to a…

    F1
  33. Video: Ilott discusses Macau qualifying win 09:09

    Video: Ilott discusses Macau qualifying win

    Ferrari-backed Callum Ilott talks through his victory at the Macau qualification race on Saturday, having passed erstwhile…

    F3
  34. 09:06

    Latest F3 photos: Saturday at Macau

    F3
  35. Video: World's Fastest Gamer finals - Day 7 05:58

    Video: World's Fastest Gamer finals - Day 7

    Catch up with the latest from McLaren's 'World's Fastest Gamer' programme, as the finalists complete a gruelling Le Mans 24…

    F1
  36. Ilott takes victory in Macau qualification race 02:58

    Ilott takes victory in Macau qualification race

    Ferrari-backed Callum Ilott claimed a commanding victory in the Macau Grand Prix qualification race after overhauling pole…

    F3
  37. Friday 17 November 2017

  38. 17:02

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  39. Video: Verstappen meets new Aston Vantage 16:12

    Video: Verstappen meets new Aston Vantage

    Red Bull driver Max Verstappen recently joined Aston Martin’s Dynamics Chief Engineer Matt Becker for a taste of how the new…

    F1
  40. Fittipaldi clinches title, Chaves wins on debut 16:03

    Fittipaldi clinches title, Chaves wins on debut

    Pietro Fittipaldi clinched the Formula V8 3.5 title as he followed home impressive debutant Henrique Chaves in the first race of…

    World Series
  41. Vettel still aiming for Ferrari 'domination' 14:38

    Vettel still aiming for Ferrari 'domination'

    Sebastian Vettel has described the 2017 season as "very positive" in Ferrari's push to return to title-winning ways, while…

    F1
  42. Video: Formula E testing behind-the-scenes 14:02

    Video: Formula E testing behind-the-scenes

    Formula E cameras went behind-the-scenes during pre-season testing in Valencia to find out what drivers could say about their…

    FE
  43. Formula V8 3.5 to end after 2017 season 12:02

    Formula V8 3.5 to end after 2017 season

    Formula V8 3.5 will end after the 2017 season, organisers have announced, citing the "continuous and alarming drop" in entries…

    World Series
  44. Video: Schumacher's 2001 title-winning Ferrari 10:37

    Video: Schumacher's 2001 title-winning Ferrari

    Take a closer look at Michael Schumacher's 2001 title-winning Ferrari, which sold for over $7.5 million at an auction in New…

    F1
more news