Pierre Gasly has described how he wouldn’t take no for an answer when it came to getting a new Honda power unit for the Canadian Grand Prix.
The French driver had been fitted with a new engine for the weekend, but a technical issue with the power unit was detected before qualifying.
As a result, the team switched out the new unit and replaced it with the older-specification one that he had been using in Monaco. The difference in power was such that Gasly ended up missing out on progressing to Q2.
Switching back to the new-spec engine for the race itself meant incurring a ten place grid penalty, but Gasly was insistent that it should happen.
“I said, ‘OK, I want the new engine in the car’,” he recalled. “Otherwise it will be just too difficult a race, and it’s better to take the penalty here.
“We have more chances to finish in the points, and also for France it is better because we don’t start far back.”
Gasly said he had taken his case to team principal Franz Tost, chief race engineering Jonathan Eddolls and Honda technical director Toyoharu Tanabe to convince them he was right.
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“I pushed everyone,” he said. “I pushed with Franz, I pushed with Jonathan , I pushed with Tanabe-san, I pushed everyone.”
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Gasly duly got his engine. Even though the penalty meant he started from the back row, he raced his way back to 11th place – missing out on points by less than five seconds.
He insisted that it had been the right call, and certainly a better outcome than sticking with the old power unit for the weekend.
“No, we would’ve finished, looking at the race, behind Perez I think,” he said. “We would’ve been 14th … In the end it was the right decision.”
With team mate Brendon Hartley crashing out on the first lap, the data Gasly acquired about the new power unit proved invaluable.
“On the data we can see that it’s a really good step forward,” he said. “In terms of battery as well, in terms of energy management is better. It’s a really good step.”
Now he’s excited to be heading into his home race next week without having to worry about grid penalties spoiling his big day before the French fans.
“Of course the first home race for me, on a track I really like, I want to do great there,” he said. “With the upgrade, if we have a good car there, we can probably expect to have a good weekend.
“If we manage to improve a bit the performance of the car, I think the power unit will give us really good chance to be more consistently close to the top ten – or in the top ten!”
Gasly will be joined at Paul Ricard by Hartley, who was medically cleared after his huge crash in Montreal.
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