The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari was Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda’s home race, and Team Principal Franz Tost was pleased with the performance of the AT01 throughout the weekend.
Tost was happy with the result of Qualifying on Saturday where Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat both qualified inside the top eight, with the former equalling his career-best qualifying performance in fourth.
Unfortunately, Gasly was an early retirement due to a technical issue on his car, but Kvyat drove superbly throughout, with his late race, post-safety car moves on Alexander Albon, Sergio Pérez and Charles Leclerc securing him his best result of the season in fourth.
Tost felt Kvyat needed a couple more laps to take the final podium place, with Daniel Ricciardo securing his place on the podium despite being one of the few drivers not to pit when the safety car was deployed for Max Verstappen’s stranded car.
“It was a fantastic feeling to be here in Imola at our home track,” said Tost. “We enjoyed yesterday’s Qualifying, as it was our most successful one this season so far, finishing P4 with Pierre and P8 with Daniil.
“Both of them had a good start to the race. Pierre got blocked by Hamilton before the first corner so Ricciardo was able to overtake him, which put Pierre back into fifth. Unfortunately, a radiator failure put a stop to his race. It’s a shame as I’m sure he could have achieved a very good result today.
“As for Daniil, he had a good race today, he spent quite a while in eighth position until we decided to bring him in on lap 14 while he was in sixth, to put him on the Base tyre. From then on, he did very fast lap times and was one of the fastest on track. He was able to control Sainz quite well and he was closing the gap to Albon.
“On lap 55, the Safety Car was deployed and we decided to bring him in for the Option tyre, which was a fantastic decision from the strategy group because this allowed Daniil to overtake Perez and Albon immediately before the first corner, followed by Leclerc a few corners later. At that stage, Daniil was in P4, but unfortunately, the race finished too early – he would have needed another couple of laps to overtake Ricciardo.
“Nevertheless, fourth is the best race result for Daniil this year, and the team showed a very good performance in both Qualifying and the race. I think we are well prepared for the remaining races of the season and we’re looking forward to going to Istanbul to continue our momentum.”
Safety Car Allowed AlphaTauri to ‘Roll the Dice’ with Kvyat’s Strategy – Egginton
Jody Egginton, the Technical Director at AlphaTauri, admitted the two-day race format appeared to suit the team, and the roll of the dice to pit Kvyat behind the safety car was worth the risk as it allowed him to gain three places on just the one lap.
However, he was disappointed that team-mate Gasly was the race’s first retirement with a technical issue, with the team revealing afterwards that a weld failure led to a loss of water pressure. The team had identified the issue pre-race but were unable to fix it fully despite urgent work on the grid.
“After today’s race, we can probably still say we like the two-day GP format!” said Egginton. “The race certainly came alive in the closing stages, with the safety car allowing us to roll the dice with the strategy and get Daniil onto some fresh tyres for the final laps.
“This allowed him to attack at the restart, which worked out very well with him making some strong passes and taking him so close to a podium today.
“On the flip side, unfortunately, we had to retire Pierre’s car from the race early on, which meant we were not able to take what would have almost certainly been a very strong points finish today with him. This is sometimes how it goes, and we will now focus on the next race, pushing to take our current strong form into the remaining events of the season.”
“We were not lucky, we took the right decision” – Tost
Tost felt Kvyat’s finishing position was deserved and was not down to luck, with the Team Principal feeling the Russian had one of his strongest weekends of the season.
The fourth-place finish helped AlphaTauri move to within fourteen points of Scuderia Ferrari in the battle for sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship, with only four race weekends to come in 2020.
“Let me say it in this way, we were not lucky, we took the right decision,” Tost is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “Because all the other teams could have done the same.
“Some of them did it, some not. And we did it, and we got something out of it, three places at the end, because he was seventh and afterwards he was fourth. He overtook Pérez, Leclerc and Albon, and finished on the fourth position, just behind Ricciardo.
“And more laps to go I think he could have had a good chance also to overtake him.”
Whereas his moves on Pérez and Albon happened heading into turn two as both the BWT Racing Point Formula One Team and Aston Martin Red Bull Racing drivers battled for position, his move on Ferrari’s Leclerc was impressive as he passed him on the run out of Tosa towards Piratella.
“It was a fantastic move,” said Tost. “Daniil was, also yesterday in the qualifying, very good.
“He likes this track, he was very happy with the car, and he showed a real, real good performance.”