That could give the French driver a crucial advantage. He explained: “We knew we had a strong package, but to qualify fifth and to go through with the medium in Q2 was hopefully a good advantage for tomorrow. A great start.
“The pressure was quite high [in Q2]. We talked before qualifying and thought there would possibly be a big reward for the first stint so we were pretty much in the mix and it was close but we managed to do it.
“I'm really happy about this first quail. At the start of the year, it's always good to have a good baseline and pick up the season as good as possible and we didn’t expect it really, honestly.”
Gasly’s new team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, who graduated from F2 this season, also showed strong pace in qualifying but lost out with a similar tactic and will start 13th for his debut grand prix.
Tsunoda will be hoping his medium tyres help him climb through the pack in the race, with Gasly quick to praise the young driver, who on Sunday will become the first person born in the 21st century to race in F1.
“He is doing a good job,” said Gasly. “So far a couple of mistakes but when he puts it together he's very fast and we have managed to work very well together this weekend.”
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