Italian Grand Prix winner Pierre Gasly heads to Russia this week hoping to put himself back on track after a botched race at Mugello, but the AlphaTauri charger is also looking forward to seeing fans in the grandstands in Sochi.
Since last spring, Formula 1 has deployed significant efforts to rebuild a calendar torn apart by the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s a measure of the sport’s global importance that commercial rights holder Liberty Media has succeeded in compiling a schedule of 17 races.
However, so far, the achievement has come to the detriment of the fans, with drivers racing in front of empty grandstands. At Mugello, a few thousand Scuderia Ferrari Club members were in attendance, courtesy of the House of Maranello.
But the atmosphere is expected to ramp up next weekend at Sochi where organisers hope to attract 30,000 race fans, although that number seems a tad optimistic. Regardless, Gasly welcomes some significant attendance for the first time this season.
“It’s a completely different track to the last few we have raced on,” Gasly said. “It is much slower than Monza and Mugello.
“In some ways, Sochi is a sort of street circuit with the majority of corners being 90-degree fourth or fifth gear turns, so all very similar. Then there’s a slower final sector. It’s an interesting track, but it’s hard to say now how well our car will work there.
“One nice thing is that I believe we will have quite a lot of spectators allowed in the grandstands, more than at Mugello. It will be nice to see more people and have a bit more atmosphere.”
Gasly excited by AlphaTauri’s ‘big ambitions’ in F1
After Monza’s jubilations, Gasly was treated to a cold shower at the Tuscan Grand Prix when he failed to complete the first lap. Staying out of harm’s way will be his priority in Russia.
“We have to make sure we keep out of trouble, as we have seen there is a lot going on in the races at the moment,” he said.
“We want to continue this upward trend: in Spa and Monza our performance was good, and even in Mugello right up to qualifying.
“Where we are in the midfield is incredibly close between several teams. We are in a group separated within three-tenths of a second, so it will be important for us to do everything perfectly if we want to fight with the cars directly ahead of us.”
Mugello’s disappointment fortunately did not dissipate Gasly’s afterthoughts of Monza.
“Even now, a few weeks on from Monza, I have had a bit more time to savour and enjoy what happened, as it was such a rush from there to Mugello.
“It’s cool and of course, it was a very strong moment that came as a result of so much work from everyone.
“I think it has given everyone a real boost; not just the race team but also everyone behind the scenes.
“Now, we have to try and continue with a run of strong performances that we have seen since the start of the season.”
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