Formula 1

Pierre Gasly: “We had a positive Friday, probably one of our strongest this season”

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Credit: Kamran Jebreili - Red Bull Content Pool/Getty Images

Pierre Gasly had a strong opening day around the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday, with the Frenchman finishing inside the top six in both free practice sessions.

The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver ended fifth fastest in the first session and improved his time by more than half a second under the floodlights of the second session to place sixth.

Gasly was happy to be back competing in normal conditions after the events around the slippery Intercity Istanbul Park two weeks ago, and he feels AlphaTauri have started the weekend looking ‘pretty competitive’.

“It’s nice to be back in a bit more normal conditions compared to Istanbul two weeks ago,” said Gasly.  “We had a positive Friday, probably one of our strongest this season and the car felt good straight away since FP1.

“I think pace-wise we look pretty competitive, but there are still some things we can improve on in terms of car balance to extract even more from the package we have. It looks promising, so we’ll try to find these extra tenths for Qualifying tomorrow.”

“We have a lot of good data for tomorrow to analyse” – Daniil Kvyat

Team-mate Daniil Kvyat was almost a second back on Gasly in the opening session as he struggled with the balance of his AT01, but the Russian improved significantly in the afternoon to get to within four-tenths of a second of the Frenchman.

Kvyat placed a lowly seventeenth in the morning but his time of 1:29.900 in the afternoon ensure he ended up inside the top ten in ninth, and he says there is still plenty of time to find with the car heading into the rest of the weekend.

“It was an interesting day, in FP1 I wasn’t too happy with the car balance, but we improved quite well for FP2,” said Kvyat.  “I think we understood the direction we needed to take, so it was a positive result.

“We have a lot of good data for tomorrow to analyse so we can hopefully make another step and improve further. I had the red flag come out during my Soft compound run which was a bit of a shame, nevertheless, the pace felt quite good today.

“This track is high with tyre degradation, so we will have to understand how to cope with it better than the others.”

“It’s fair to say the changes we made have improved the car” – Jonathan Eddolls

Jonathan Eddolls, the Chief Race Engineer at AlphaTauri, says practice in Bahrain was important for the team as they continue their development programme with the AT01, despite the season coming to an end after the final triple header of 2020.

AlphaTauri brought some aerodynamic parts aimed at improving not only this years car but to learn how they could work with the 2021 AT02, whilst there was also the learning of Pirelli’s C3 tyre for next season that the tyre manufacturer brought to Bahrain to run in the two Friday sessions.

“Even though we’re close to the end of the season, it didn’t mean there wasn’t anything for us to test today,” said Eddolls.  “We came here with some aerodynamic parts that we needed to test and understand, and each team was given two additional sets of 2021 tyres to evaluate for Pirelli.

“Both free practices were quite busy, as the aim was to have the car on the track almost all of the time. FP1 was more about understanding the 2021 tyres over long runs, and also to sign off and understand some of the new aerodynamic components, so there was less setup work carried out in that session.

“We reviewed the data and made some changes to the car, and with the track being rear limited, along with an aggressive tyre choice, rear degradation was high, so we needed to address that going into FP2. We started FP2 with a short-run compare with the 2020 vs 2021 tyre, then went on with our normal programme.

“It’s fair to say the changes we made have improved the car and the performance is looking good, in line with our expectations. With the degradation we have, the long run and the race is going to be tricky, so we need to understand what we need to do to reduce it for the race – that’s going to be the focus tonight.”

Daniil Kvyat was ninth in second practice after being seventeenth in the first – Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Thirty-something motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1, Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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