Pierre Gasly believes the early Safety Car that was deployed at the Belgian Grand Prix cost him a fifth-place finish on Sunday.
Gasly, who endured an emotional weekend one year on from the death of his friend Anthoine Hubert, was the only driver to start the race on the Hard compound.
The AlphaTauri driver had the aim of going deep into the race and making it to the end on fresher tyres compared to his rivals.
However, on lap 11 a safety car was called after Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell retired from the race, allowing those on the Soft and Medium tyres to make a pitstop while losing little on-track time.
“It was an important day for me because I wanted to do well for Anthoine after what happened last year,” Gasly said.
“We decided to go for a different strategy, starting on the Hard compound. It was better than expected and I was able to attack and overtake quite a few cars.
“The move on Perez was especially intense but very enjoyable! We knew a safety car between the start of the race and lap 20 would be a killer for us, but unfortunately, that’s what happened and gave the other cars a free pitstop.”
After Gasly made his stop on lap 26, he re-joined towards the back of the field, but affirms he didn’t lose hope of scoring points.
The Frenchman battled through the field and crossed the line in eighth, landing him the Driver of the Day award – however, he thinks a top-five finish was on the cards if not for the early Safety Car.
“We didn’t give up because we had a great car, good pace, so I pushed as hard as I could,” Gasly commented.
“After our pitstop, we exited almost last and we had to fight back through the field, but I enjoyed it and to recover to P8 was just great!
“I reckon the safety car cost us a potential P5 today because I think we lost around 20 seconds there and finished seven seconds behind Ocon in P5.
“We had a big job ahead of us, so to recover the way we did was great and I think we can be very happy with that.
“It’s nice to be voted Driver of the Day, so thanks to all the people who voted for me and I’ll try to put this kind of performance again and again in the coming weeks.”