AlphaTauri feels ‘a lot better than last year at this time’ says Gasly
Pierre Gasly says AlphaTauri's pre-season testing showing has been “really positive” compared to this time last year, after he managed the second-quickest time of day two in Bahrain, and 87 laps to boot.
Gasly set his fastest lap of 1m30.413s with 45 minutes remaining with the softest compound tyre on the second day of testing and was only eclipsed at the top of the time sheets by Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas, who also used the same C5 compound.
The Frenchman was buoyed by another solid, trouble-free showing for the Faenza-based team, though his new team mate Yuki Tsunoda's programme was interrupted by fuel system and DRS issues on Saturday morning.
“I must say it’s been another really positive day for us," he said. "A lot of laps done in the afternoon, managed to do all the high fuel running we wanted, try different things on the car, and a bit more like performance run in the end with soft compounds. In those conditions I felt very good in the car, a lot better than last year at the same time, so it’s pretty positive.
“All in all, I feel like we had a few issues which can be sorted. It doesn’t feel like there are any big weak areas on the car, which is a good start,” added Gasly.
Part of that promising pace and reliability has come from engine suppliers Honda, who bow out of F1 at the end of this season. Gasly said he was pleasantly surprised by their 2021 engine – which is the power unit Honda planned to bring for 2022 before they brought it forward by a year, after announcing their planned departure from the sport.
“Every year they [Honda] come with a bit of a surprise at the start of the year and so far we’re really happy, it’s working well, we didn’t have any reliability issues, we seemed to get some good power, so let’s see once we get to the first race and we push it flat out – but so far it’s been working really well,” he explained.
Things didn't go so smoothly for "stressed" rookie Tsunoda in the morning, yet he still found positives to take from his 57-lap stint.
“Compared to yesterday it was a good step except there was an issue towards the end with the fuel tanks problem [on Friday]. We solved it, thanks to the team," said Tsunoda.
“Yeah it's been stress[ful], I have to be honest. Yesterday it was OK because it was the first day and I expected it wouldn't be easy… but today we had another issue on a different side, almost every stint, and I couldn't drive normally,” he added.
“Every time there was an issue; for example, with the first medium tyre push, the DRS was not working and in the last C4 [soft tyre] push laps the pedals, something broke, and at the end of the last lap, [we] lost power.
“There was not much [room] to drive like normal but it's good for the team to have data like this, to not have these issues in race weekends, so it was a good, positive day as well. I hope we don't have this issue tomorrow so I can attack or push normally,” he concluded ahead of the final day of testing.