Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda enjoyed a successful 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship testing weekend, avoiding any reliability issues. The AT-02 was so reliable across the three days that they completed an outstanding 422 laps, the joint-most with Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN.
Not only was the car reliable, but it was fast. In Sunday’s final session, rookie driver Yuki Tsunoda went second fastest overall with a time of 1:29.053, only Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen outdoing the Japanese driver, but more notably, it was Honda-powered engine cars that were standing out.
Pierre Gasly drove the AT-02 in the morning session on the final day in which the majority of the time included running race simulations, but the Frenchman was able to get a few flying-laps in, recording a time of 1:30.413, which was the fourth quickest at the time.
While it was an all-round positive weekend for AlphaTauri, technical director John Egginton remain ‘cautiously optimistic’ about the car performance ahead of the 2021 F1 season opener in Bahrain.
“Scuderia AlphaTauri concluded a positive third – and final – day of pre-season testing here on the Bahrain International Circuit, racking up an impressive 422 total laps (2283.86 km). Following two days of changeable conditions, today marked the first day of calmer weather – and cooler track temperatures – for both drivers.” Egginton said.
“Starting in the morning session, Pierre continued to add to his impressive mileage tally, amassing a further 76 laps before the lunchbreak. Meanwhile, Yuki spent the afternoon finishing his testing plan with a race simulation, before finishing the test on a high, achieving a strong second place as the chequered flag fell.
“Over the course of three days, the team completed a successful testing programme – including a vast amount of aero testing, with rakes fitted, and collected a large amount of data that the team will now analyse ahead of the first race again here in Bahrain at the end of the month. Following running, the team remain cautiously optimistic about the performance of the car but will now return to the factory to further understand the level of correlation between wind tunnel data and performance on track.”
AlphaTauri enters the 2021 campaign on the back of a successful season last year that saw the team finish seventh in the constructor world championship, twenty-four points behind Scuderia Ferrari Misson Winnow, and recorded their first Grand Prix since 2008 when Gasly won the 2020 Italian Grand Prix in spectacular fashion.
The Italian-based company were at the back-end of the midfield battle last year, competing with Ferrari but even Haas F1 Team on some occasions. While pre-season testing isn’t usually a good indicator of everyone’s development, AlphaTauri has shown progression to potentially compete at the front of the midfield pack in the upcoming campaign.
Franz Tost, team principal of AlphaTauri, acknowledges that AT-02 looks competitive, but he doesn’t want to get too carried away until the first session of qualifying in Bahrain in two weeks’ time.
“We’ve had three really good test days here in Bahrain and we managed to complete 2,284 km in total. We’ve learnt a lot about the car because we managed to complete so many laps. Both drivers did a fantastic job across all three days, Pierre was very consistent in every session and Yuki performed very well this afternoon.”
“The AT02 seems to be competitive, but we won’t know how representative this is until the first qualifying session here in Bahrain. I would like to thank everyone in the team for the good job which has allowed us to get us into this position and we’re looking forward to the season ahead. I also would like to thank the organisers here at the Bahrain International Circuit for such a warm welcome and for organising a great test.”