Franz Tost was pleased with the ‘fantastic drive’ put in by Pierre Gasly during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, with the Team Principal of Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda feeling the Frenchman would have finished higher than eighth had it not been for the early safety car intervention.
Gasly was the only driver on the grid to start on the hard Pirelli tyre at Spa-Francorchamps and he was making good use of them in the early laps to climb up into the top eight before the safety car was deployed for the crashes of Antonio Giovinazzi and George Russell.
The Frenchman stayed on track and ran as high as fourth before making his pit stop to switch to the medium compound, and despite dropping to near the back of the field, he was able to make gains in the closing laps to finish an excellent eighth.
Tost felt eighth was a good result but it should have been better had Gasly been able to stick to his original strategy and not be compromised by the safety car that allowed the majority of their rivals a free pit stop.
“After Qualifying, Daniil and Pierre finished in P11 and P12 – which is quite a good position because you can decide which tyres to begin the race – so we opted to split the strategy,” said Tost. “Daniil started on the Prime, while Pierre stared on the Base.
“Both had a really good start; Pierre immediately started to overtake the cars in front, moving up to P8. Daniil was two places behind when a safety car came as a result of Giovinazzi’s crash, so we decided to pit Daniil and leave Pierre out on the Base tyre, as for our strategy it was too early to pit him.
“Pierre did a very good job defending his position until, later on, other drivers managed to overtake him on fresher tyres, so we pitted him for Prime on lap 26. He then started a competitive comeback to close the gap and was able to overtake the Haas, Ferrari and the Racing Points to finish in eighth position.
“It was a fantastic drive from Pierre and without the safety car, our strategy to start on the Base would have paid off even more as I think Pierre could have finished higher up the order.”
Tost felt Daniil Kvyat was unlucky to miss out on points in eleventh in the other AlphaTauri, with the Russian amongst many on the grid who struggled with the hard compound in the closing stages after a long stint on the tyre due to the safety car coming so early.
“Like many other drivers, Daniil suffered with the tyres at the end of the race, therefore he wasn’t able to score points and finished in P11,” said Tost. “Now we are looking forward to going to our “first home race” out of three in Italy, it’s always nice to be back in Monza, where we have very good memories.”
“Our competitive top speed in the race permitted us to overtake many cars” – Claudio Balestri
Claudio Balestri, the Chief Engineer at AlphaTauri, felt the team optimised their package throughout the weekend and were able to score good points on Sunday.
The team hope to carry the momentum from Spa-Francorchamps into next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, where the hope is that they can score points with both cars for the first time in 2020.
“We had a good race today,” said Balestri. “We optimized our low downforce package during the weekend and it paid off. Our competitive top speed in the race permitted us to overtake many cars.
“The pit wall did a solid job in terms of strategy because we tried to maximize the advantage of free tyre choice. In the end, Pierre put in a fantastic drive, overtaking many cars which is very satisfying. Daniil was on different strategy, he pitted under safety car which was deployed for the crash between Russell and Giovinazzi, and similarly to most of the drivers we tried to go to the end with him on the base tyre.
“At the end of the race, Pierre finished P8 and Daniil finished just out of the points in P11. We now head to Monza with a bit of momentum to continue the fight for points.”