Struggling Gasly making progress with Red Bull car

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In this week’s Chinese Grand Prix review podcast, we discussed the decent run to 6th from Pierre Gasly as well as setting fastest lap. He needed that result as he has struggled so far this season saying he was not comfortable in the car from a drivability standpoint.

Red Bull Racing’s boss, Christian Horner, says that Pierre is coming to grips and he believes he will get on top of it.

“I think he has made a step forward,” said Horner.

“He is still not totally comfortable within the car at the moment, not from a physical fitting, but I think he is in the process of needing to refine his style to optimize the best from the characteristics of the car.

“It is obviously proving to be a challenge for him, but he is making progress and the fastest lap at the end of the race will give him some confidence as well.”

It’s a tough situation coming from one team to another and experiencing a distinctly different chassis. I recall Charles Leclerc in last year’s Alfa Romeo Sauber. He struggled early on but it didn’t take him long to re-work his driving style to favor the chassis and find his form. Perhaps Pierre is starting to come to terms with the chassis he has and he said that during the race in China, he used the event to try and find the limits and tailor his driving style.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Gasly said.

“I was quite alone for all the race, so I tried many different things with the driving, trying to understand what I can do inside the car to go around the main thing I still struggle with and get some more answers.

“But I think we know what to improve, I know what to improve also on my side.

“So hopefully we’re going to do a step better each weekend.”

I was trying to tap my less-than-perfect memory as to other drivers who faced a similar challenge and broke through the barrier. Leclerc is the most recent I can think of from last year but I would also argue that Daniel Ricciardo may be facing some of that at Renault as we speak.

There have been times when Lewis Hamilton said he was struggling with a new chassis but he seemed to get on top of it very quickly. I think of people that have faced many different chassis’ such as Kimi Raikkonen and Nico Hulkenberg who both seem to be able to quickly adopt their driving style.

There were drivers who seemed to take longer or find it more difficult to make a wholesale style change. Drivers such as Jenson Button, Felipe Massa, David Coulthard, and others. All very good drivers for sure, but if the car didn’t flatter their driving style, it took them a while to re-work their style to flatter the car.

Can you think of some drivers who were great at this and other who struggled?

Hat Tip: Autosport

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Yes, I can – Surtees took 3 or four races to find pace & confort with the car set up, as did Jack Brabham. Graham Hill ironed it out in testing (remember testing? When drivers and engineers could work together?). Jimmy Clark just got in and drove. Annoyed the heck out of everyone else. I seem to remember that Fittipaldi had this issue – loads of natural talent but complained about the car for a while before settling in.