Horner: “Perfect storm” caused Gasly Q1 exit

Gasly endured a nightmare first qualifying session for his new outfit and will start only 17th on the grid after being eliminated in the opening segment.

This marked Red Bull’s first Q1 exit since Max Verstappen couldn’t participate in qualifying at all last year in Monaco after a practice crash.

Both Verstappen and Gasly attempted just a single soft-tyre run in the Melbourne Q1 session, and the Frenchman – who would ultimately describe the strategy as “a bit optimistic” – initially sat ahead of his teammate before Verstappen improved on the same set.

Gasly sat eighth at the conclusion of his run, trailing Verstappen by a tenth and a half.

But a flurry of improvements from rival drivers late on consigned him to 17th, while Verstappen advanced and would go on to qualify fourth.

Marko said Red Bull had miscalculated the cut-off laptime and “how much a second set of tyres brings”.

“A stupid mistake from our strategy people, and we have to apologise to him for this stupid mistake,” he told Motorsport.com.

Team boss Christian Horner was more diplomatic in his assessment of the situation.

“Unfortunately his [Gasly’s] second lap [on the first set] was not quicker, as Max had gone,” Horner told Motorsport.com.

“We were relying on that first set of tyres to get him through – unfortunately it didn’t happen for him.

“With 20/20 hindsight it’s easy to say that we should have taken another set of tyres.

“Obviously it’s all very tight, it’s frustrating for him in his first quali, bit I’m sure he’ll race strongly from there tomorrow.”

Pierre Gasly, Red Bull Racing RB15, kicks up some sparks

Photo by: Joe Portlock / LAT Images