AlphaTauri has revealed Pierre Gasly’s car suffered an unexplained “blackout” before its rear end burst into flames at the side of the track in Friday’s second practice session for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
The incident, which caused the session to be red-flagged for 16 minutes, forced Gasly to make a rapid exit as fire erupted underneath the rear bodywork of his car before marshals quickly came in to extinguish it.
The team and power unit supplier Honda are currently investigating the issue.
Chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls said: “We started our planned performance runs, but unfortunately for Pierre, during the first new tyre lap his car had a ‘blackout’ and subsequent fire.”
Gasly confirmed after practice he “lost everything, the steering, all the electricity in the car”.
This is Formula One’s first visit to Portimão's Algarve International Circuit, which has been described as a “rollercoaster” due to its a high speed and extremely undulating terrain.
It has been a challenging day for the drivers, with most complaining about a lack of grip on the slippery surface, with the loss of session time likely to hamper Gasly’s plans for the rest of the weekend.
“We didn’t have time to do a run on soft tyres, to see where we sit compared to the others in the short runs,” said Gasly. “Our performance seems quite decent so far, but I still do not feel fully happy with the car.”
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