Pierre Gasly says he only had a few seconds’ warning before a major fire broke out in the back of his AlphaTauri Formula 1 car in FP2 in Portugal.
The French raised a red flag when he stopped at the edge of the track and jumped as the flames set in.
His car had lost all power in what the team described as a “blackout”.
It took a few seconds for the marshals to reach the car as some of them had to cross the track, and Gasly was seen urging them to act.
They eventually extinguished the fire, but not before the rear of the car suffered serious damage.
Gasly was already at the limit for all six elements of the Honda powertrain, and so any replacements will result in grid penalties if the team doesn’t have usable examples in the pool.
He had completed 27 laps of the afternoon session before the fire, and was still an encouraging seventh by the end of the session.
However, he has some catching up to do as he only used the hard tire and will have to rely on data from his teammate Daniil Kvyat.
“Literally five seconds before I stopped, I lost everything – the steering, the electricity in the car,” he said.
“We are still investigating what happened.
“Obviously there was a lot of fire in the back of the car and things were burning, so we have to analyze and find out what happened.
“It’s certainly not ideal, especially since we couldn’t use the tire option, we only had the basics this morning.
“On a new track like this it’s never great, but that’s what we have, unfortunately.
“We will try to get as much data as possible from Dany’s side.
“In terms of the pace it has looked pretty decent all day, but I still don’t feel very comfortable with the car so I think we can improve it for tomorrow.
“It will be important, FP3, because we have to recover these towers.”
Kvyat, who was in 17th place, admitted he hadn’t had a good day.
“It was really difficult to get into the rhythm there so not much is clear at the moment,” said the Russian.
“We’ll just have to analyze, and at the moment nothing is going really well.
“It wasn’t very pleasant, there is so little grip there.
“It’s slippery, it’s slippery a bit – it’s a different challenge.
“We’ll have to try to adjust some things on the car and figure out what works best.”