Pierre Gasly says he was certain of crashing with Toro Rosso teammate Brendon Hartley in a scary near-miss during qualifying for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix and felt he could “already see myself in the air”.

After Hartley picked up a puncture going through the tight and twisty castle section on the Baku City Circuit, teammate Gasly was unsighted behind him and closing up to him at around 200kph heading towards Turn 15 in Q1.

Hartley, who made a move left to avoid his fast-approaching teammate, found Gasly looking to get past on the same side of track which forced the French driver into a sudden switch to the right with the pair avoiding contact by a matter of centimetres.

Gasly says he was convinced he was going to crash and run over the top of Hartley.

“At the time, everything goes so fast. I could already see myself in the air,” Gasly said. “It was just a pretty bad feeling. It’s not a nice situation.”

After being told Hartley had sustained a puncture which caused his slow speed, with the pair speaking about the incident after qualifying, the French driver says he doesn’t blame his teammate and put the incident down to misfortune at a difficult part of the circuit with Turn 14 leaving him unable to see the car ahead.

“I’m not upset with Brendon and I’m not going to blame him,” he said. “It’s that sort of situation. I understand that in his position, he had so many things to do and to deal with. But just I think it arrived in a really bad place where the speed is really high.

“Turn 14 is sort of a blind corner. I could not really see him until I did this last left kink before Turn 15 but then when I saw him it was just so slow compared to the speed I had.

“I saw he was in the middle, I first thought okay, go to the left, and after I saw him move to the left, so I decided to go right. Then he moved the same way to the right, so I had to turn even more.

“Last time I turned, I was sure that I was going to take off on the rear wheel. I managed to avoid him, but I went on the kerb so when I braked I had both wheels in the air and I could not slow down the car. It was scary. I was upset because I could not improve because it ruined my lap.”

Hartley says he’s apologised to both Gasly and their Toro Rosso team for wrecking their qualifying, with both cars exiting in Q1, and accepts the blame for the “very amateurish” mistake.

“I clipped the wall very lightly but it punctured the tyre. I only realised this as I went through the high speed left corner,” Hartley said. “I realised I had a problem then through the blind corner, Pierre came very quickly and I completely got in the way.

“I didn’t know what way to go initially because if I was on the right side, I would be in the way later and if I was on the left I could also be in the way for the braking. In the end, it looked very amateurish and I apologise to him and the team.”

Gasly will start the Azerbaijan race from 17th position with Hartley directly behind him on the grid in 19th place.

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