Gasly impresses on FE debut despite bizarre late crash

Photo: Lou Johnson/Spacesuit Media

Red Bull Formula 1 junior driver Pierre Gasly enjoyed an impressive debut Formula E weekend in New York City despite a bizarre crash at the end of Sunday’s race.

2016 GP2 Series champion Gasly was drafted in by Renault e.dams to replace championship leader Sebastien Buemi, who was forced to skip the New York double-header due to clashing commitments with Toyota’s LMP1 team at the Nürburgring.

After qualifying a lowly 19th for his first race on Saturday, Gasly was able to bounce back to P7 in the race as he grew in confidence with the Formula E car.

The Frenchman was the fastest driver in Sunday’s qualifying heats, only for a sloppy Super Pole lap to leave him fourth on the grid – a position he held to the chequered flag.

However, Gasly crossed the line in bizarre fashion, crashing into the wall when trying to make a late pass on Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld for third place after a bold attempt around the outside of the final corner.

“Basically in the last lap, we had much more energy than the two Mahindras in front of us. I knew it was for a shot at the podium, so I really pushed hard until the last corner,” Gasly told Current E.

“I went around the outside of Nick, and when I started to turn and he saw me in front, he released the brake and hit me on the rear-left wheel. So basically when he pushed me it sent me into the wall. Not much I could do.

“I think it’s quite a bit unfair, but it’s how it is. Anyway fourth is good for the team. We scored some good points. But as a racer I really wanted to be on the podium. But it’s like this.”

“Gasly was obviously closing very quickly on the last two or three months, they probably had a different idea on energy management on that team,” Heidfeld explained.

“He was on the right-hand side and I just tried to stay as close as possible to Felix. He couldn’t turn in because I was there and Felix was there, and I tried to give him enough room and made contact. That’s how I see it now.”

Looking back on his debut Formula E weekend, Gasly said: “It’s been really exciting, really busy as well since yesterday to learn all the procedures and get used to the car, it’s been quite a lot of hard work.

“But I really enjoyed it overall. We managed to score points in both races. We managed to go into Super Pole this morning with the fastest lap of the weekend.

“It’s been really positive, close racing also on-track. Both races were good fun. It’s been a good experience.”

Buemi will return to his seat for the Formula E season finale in Montreal, while Gasly’s next racing duty will be in the Japanese Super Formula series next month at Motegi.

Gasly is known to be in the running for a seat with Red Bull’s B-team Toro Rosso in 2018, meaning he could become the first driver to graduate to F1 after having raced in Formula E.

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