Pierre Gasly was made to rue the red flag stoppage in the Mexico City Grand Prix coming at the “worst possible time” for his race.

Gasly continued his strong run since the summer break to miss out on a Q3 place in qualifying by less than a tenth, outpacing team-mate Esteban Ocon, who exited in Q1.

Despite losing one place to Nico Hulkenberg at the start, Gasly got ahead of both Alfa Romeos and Sergio Perez’s damaged Red Bull to run in ninth during the first stint.

The Frenchman had been trailing Hulkenberg when the pair made their opening pitstops right before Kevin Magnussen crashed at Turn 9 on Lap 33, prompting a red flag.

“It was just the worst possible timing in terms of red flags,” Gasly said. “We boxed, I feel like we did a decent first stint, just got blocked behind Nico and just couldn’t get past in the straight.

“We just didn’t have the straight-line speed [to overtake the Haas], but then we were still pulling away from the guys behind.”

The suspension enabled Yuki Tsunoda to elevate his way up to eighth, while Gasly’s woes were compounded by losing out on the restart to Alex Albon and team-mate Ocon.

“We boxed at quite a good gap with Alex behind and just past Esteban who didn’t pit. And obviously the red flag came so these guys got a free pit stop,” Gasly explained. “Yuki, Alex and Esteban just gained 20 seconds.

“So it wasn’t ideal. As much as frustrating it can be, there’s nothing you can do. So no real regret, it just didn’t really play in our favour.”

Pierre Gasly (FRA) Alpine F1 Team A523. 29.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Race Day

Although Gasly would eventually overtake Hulkenberg in the closing laps, Lando Norris had clawed his way through in the McLaren to resign the Alpine driver to 11th place.

Gasly reveals that his race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez was also hampered by a gear shift problem, which contributed to his gradual plight down the order.

“I had a great start most times,” he noted. “But every time I shifted up to fourth and fifth I had a massive downgrade in terms of upshift, which most times cost me some positions.

“I think both times I was on the edge of passing Nico, and in the end got back behind him and just spent the whole time in traffic.

“So there was few things which could have been better. But I think in the end, I said to the team that I would have probably finished ninth, Esteban finished 10th, so we lose only a point.

“But it’s just a bit frustrating when you put in a lot of work and red flag comes. I mean, I’ve benefited from it in the past. Today was just not our day.”

Ocon would ensure that Alpine avoided departing the weekend emptyhanded by claiming the final point, 3.3s ahead of Gasly in the sister A523 car by the chequered flag.

Despite failing to score for only the third time since the break, Gasly was buoyed by the feeling that the Enstone squad managed to optimise its weekend prospects again.

“I think we’re getting in a place where I know at the end of the weekend we kind of optimise,” he addressed.

“We’ve got issues, we’ve got clear weaknesses that we know we can’t fix at the track. It’s bigger changes that we need.

“But in terms of like the way we operate and maximising what we’ve got, I think it’s quite well managed though. Definitely the best momentum.”

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