Alphatauri’s Pierre Gasly secured his third Formula 1 career podium after battling to third place against the odds in a thrilling Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku, with his team mate Yuki Tsunoda also in the points.

Gasly had been strong from the start of the weekend and was quickest of anyone in final practice, before winning a second row starting spot for the race in qualifying.

Although he lost a position at the start to a flying Sergio Perez, Gasly kept himself in the top six for the entire race. However a podium had looked tantalisingly out of reach as the final laps approached.

  • Read also: Perez wins Baku shoot-out after Verstappen disaster

But a tyre failure for race leader Max Verstappen, and then a rare mistake by Lewis Hamilton at the ensuing restart, promoted Gasly into third place for the final two-lap shoot-out despite pressure from Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“Guys, I don’t know how I did that,” he said over the team radio on the cool-down lap. “Wow. No idea how I’ve done that. Incredible, guys. I’m so happy for you. Really had to fight hard for that one.”

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“Honestly, I don’t really know what to say,” he subsequently told the media in parc ferme “It was such an insane race, and, you know, super intense last two laps.

“The car has been incredible all weekend and we were there in every session,” he continued. “Qualifying had been mega, but I didn’t know if we could keep up that position or fight for even a podium. But in the end we did it.

“I have had one first [2020 Italy] and one second [2019 Brazil] now, and I was missing that third place, so it feels incredible to get that podium.”

It’s an even bigger achievement than it might appear, given that Gasly was having to manage an engine issue from midway through the race which lost him power down Baku’s long straights.

“It was a very difficult race from mid-race onwards with an engine issue,” he admitted. “We were losing quite a lot of power down the straights, and Seb [Vettel] managed to pass us in the middle of the race.

“It was clearly a pretty big difference with Yuki, for example, so the guys told me a lot of engine switches to try to limit the damage.

“I was very strong in the second sector but the straight was very hard. When Seb passed me, I could literally not do anything there.”

The situation came to a head when the red flag closed everyone up for the restart. “We had to get the elbows out,” Gasly said. “I knew these last two laps were going to be very difficult with Charles behind.

“And you know I tried it: every braking I wasn’t sure if I was going to stop the car, but I had to go for it. I really wanted that podium.

“I knew in those last two laps, whatever I did, I knew that Charles behind would pass me on the straight,” he said. “And that’s what happened.

“I just got back in the tow and went for it in turn one. He came back at me in turn three and I had to brake very late.

“Then I really pushed the brakes to the limit with Seb. I thought I was going to end in the wall there. I managed to stop it somehow, I don’t know how, but it was late braking.

“And with Charles it was the same. I really wanted that podium. I took some big risks, but it was clearly worth it.

“It just feels incredible after such a good weekend,” he said. “Some really good points, and I’m very happy Yuki did a good race as wel

“All in all, a fantastic job and hopefully we can celebrate all together tonight.”

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