Gasly heading for early F1 grid penalty after Bahrain “barbecue”

Gasly stopped on track after his car cut out late in the race, and a spectacular fire ensued that led to a safety car period.

The Faenza team now has to undertake a substantial rebuild before next weekend’s Saudi Arabian GP in Jeddah, and may even change the Frenchman’s chassis.

However, a longer term concern is that the team admits he may have to discard one of the two Honda energy stores he is allocated for the season after just one race weekend, which would almost certainly guarantee a grid penalty as he won’t be able to do the remaining races without a further change. Other PU elements might also have been damaged by the fire.

Gasly had enjoyed a strong race at Sakhir and had been fighting with the likes of Fernando Alonso and Kevin Magnussen before he stopped.

“I literally had zero warning, which is very strange,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com about the DNF.

“I’m not not too sure what happened yet, just out of Turn 1 the whole car switched off, and I parked it. Then basically a barbecue at the back of the car.

“We were super confident after testing, we didn’t have one single issue, and just shows this sport keeps you grounded all the time, you can never be overconfident about anything. I just hope the engine is not gone, but we’ll deal with it.

“So not the finish we would have liked, and especially after the race was going so well with a great start, great battle with Fernando, which was pretty fun, and then after also with Kevin. We were in P8 quite comfortably, so just a big shame to miss on these points.”

AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton confirmed that the team had no warning of any issues.

“It was an instantaneous failure, a total power loss electrically,” he told Motorsport.com. “At the moment it’s potentially related to the battery, we don’t know exactly. So we’re still investigating. We’ve got to find the fault first, but one scenario is that we have to change a power unit element.

“One minute the car was running, and then it was off, total failure. We lost power immediately, the car stopped and we had a fire. The source of the fire could be things that were very hot not being cooled properly. We’ve had a look at it, there’s a lot of superficial damage.”

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Egginton conceded that the crew now had a lot of work on its hands before the car runs on Friday on Jeddah.

“We’re still assessing, but as a minimum the rear suspension will be new, a lot of the wiring will be new, the bodywork was sang. We’ll assess the battery, we’ll assess the ICE, because there’s a lot of fire extinguishant gone over the car. Worst case, it’s a power unit element and a chassis, but at the moment, it’s too early to say.

“Anything that’s connected to the power unit or the gearbox would have got hot, the fire was around the area, And again, everything’s had fire extinguishant all over it. So we could potentially change all these bits and send them back to the factory for full inspection.”

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