Pierre Gasly sat out the morning session at the Suzuka International Racing Course on Friday after Scuderia Toro Rosso gave Naoki Yamamoto his maiden Formula 1 outing, but the Frenchman was quickly up to pace when he did get on track in the afternoon session.
In a busier-than-normal session thanks to the news that typhoon Hagibis has cancelled all of Saturday’s running, Gasly ran thirty laps in the hour and a half session and ended ninth fastest, leaving the Frenchman excited by the potential of what could happen when track running resumes on Sunday.
“It was quite a chilled morning on my side watching FP1,” admitted Gasly. “It’s really great to drive around Suzuka, one of my favourite tracks, and even though I only had one session, it was very enjoyable and I’m really excited for Sunday.
“We knew FP2 would be really important as Saturday is cancelled, so we tried to do as many runs as we could. We did a combination of Qualifying and race preparation and we managed to do many laps and end up with the ninth fastest lap.
“However, the car was a bit tricky so we need to study everything we trialled today, as it’s OK but we can still find some more performance. We’ve got more time than usual to work and find the best solutions for quite a busy Sunday.”
Team-mate Daniil Kvyat participated in both sessions, ending sixteenth in the morning and twelfth in the afternoon, and whilst he was happy with his day, the Russian feeling there is room for improvement ahead of Sunday’s busy schedule at Suzuka.
“It was a good session, we had a productive FP2 as we knew tomorrow is cancelled so we had an intense programme which was a bit different to usual, it was very busy and we completed many laps,” said Kvyat.
“In FP1 we were not where we wanted to be with the car, but in FP2 we made a good step and the car felt better, which was good progress. Overall, we were quite happy with the car and what we managed to do in FP2, we will see if there’s room for improvement for Sunday but going straight into Qualifying will be interesting!
“The conditions may be different to today, it could be windier, so it takes a bit of time to adapt and it will come down to how fast you will be able to find your rhythm.”
Jonathan Eddolls, the Chief Race Engineer at Toro Rosso, says the cancellation of Saturday’s running meant Friday afternoon was going to be extremely busy, with additional tyres from their allowance being used.
The team made changes to both STR14’s between the two sessions that he felt was positive and gives the team some confidence for the rest of the weekend, although they were hoping for more than they achieved.
“We received the news that Saturday running would be cancelled, which meant we could bring the FP3 tyres forwards and use them in FP2, so each car had three new Options and one new Prime, making FP2 a very busy and exciting session,” said Eddolls. “We made a number of changes to both cars for FP2 with the target of improving the front end – understeer here is very penalising.
“Daniil used his four new tyres at the start of the session, where he used them in quick succession, tuning the balance between each and ending up with a car he was happy with. For Pierre, given he had missed FP1, he preferred to use two new tyres at the start of the session, saving the final two Options for the end of the session after completing more laps and building confidence in the car.
“We knew there was a risk with this approach given the likely traffic of others on high fuel, but in the end we could find good track position and he was able to get the most out of it. The changes improved the front end and general performance, which was positive, but we were hoping for a little bit more performance from the car than we showed today.
“This was the final running before Qualifying, so we have a lot of analysis to do tonight and prepare the cars for an early start on Sunday!”