Gasly says AlphaTauri in ‘best shape possible’ after spending Friday in top 5 at Spa
Pierre Gasly blew the cobwebs off from the summer break in emphatic fashion on Friday at the Belgian Grand Prix, with the French driver spending the entire day running in the top five for AlphaTauri.
A strong opening session from Gasly saw him take P3 in Free Practice 1, behind only the Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas and the Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
Gasly then shrugged off any disappointment he might have felt at Red Bull’s lunchtime announcement that Sergio Perez would continue to partner Verstappen in 2022, with Gasly going fifth fastest after the all-important FP2 qualifying simulations, capping a fine day for the AlphaTauri driver at Spa-Francorchamps.
“I must say, coming back from summer break, we haven’t run in the car for a few weeks, all the mechanics and engineers have been away, so it’s good to restart in the best shape possible,” said Gasly. “And that’s exactly what we did this morning with the third [fastest] time, and this afternoon with the fifth fastest time. So very positive start and it’s good to see.
“There’s always some extra speed to find, and I think we know the areas to focus on,” Gasly added. “The weather, we saw it today, the track conditions have changed five or six times since this morning, so tomorrow could be wet. We need to be prepared for all sorts of conditions, but at least the baseline we have seems to work, and I’m just happy to be back driving and I hope we can confirm our good pace tomorrow.”
While Gasly was riding high in the top five on Friday, team mate Yuki Tsunoda was unable to crack the top 10, ending FP1 15th after a spin, while he’d improve to just 12th in FP2, 0.793s off Gasly’s best time.
“First session, the spin – I’m getting used to it, but it was not a good thing!” laughed Tsunoda after Friday’s running. “My main target this week was consistency and no big mistakes, so at the moment, it’s going well I think, in terms of building up and building the pace, feeling the car to make it better.
“I think as a team the pace is there. If I see Pierre’s pace, the car is there, so I just need to adjust a little bit the last bit in qualifying, but until then just try and keep this pace, keep building up and we’ll see what’s going to happen tomorrow.
“I have good memories from the last two years here in the junior categories,” added Tsunoda, who last year won the Formula 2 Feature Race here from pole position, following a penalty for his now-fellow F1 rookie Nikita Mazepin. “And I feel also the same in a Formula 1 car as well, so I’ll just enjoy it, keep focused and try to be Q3 in qualifying.”