Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 was the first time that the AT-02 was run on a race weekend with both drivers showing high levels of pace – Yuki Tsunoda fourteenth and seventh and Pierre Gasly finishing seventh and ninth in the two free practice sessions respectively.
Jonathan Eddolls – Chief Race Engineer at Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda is excited to be back at the Bahrain International Circuit on a race weekend, after testing which only finished one week ago it feels completely different to be back at the same circuit for a race weekend. With Free Practice Sessions being shorter this year, there was plenty of work for the team to do.
“I’m excited to be back on track racing again – we were obviously here testing a few weeks ago but it feels completely different being here in Bahrain for a race weekend. Due to each session only lasting an hour this season, we had a full run-plan to get through.”
Eddolls feels that there has been a lot to learn from Free Practice 1 – the high track temperatures were drastically different to those that will be experienced in qualifying and the race so due to this there was more of a focus on aero understanding which doesn’t depend on track temperature. In Free Practice 2 – where conditions were more representative a more ‘normal’ plan was followed doing runs on the medium tyres and then the soft tyre. Eddolls is happy with the drivers laps on the performance runs which was a highlight of the day.
“It’s difficult to learn a lot from FP1 here, due to the high track temperatures being drastically different to those that we’ll experience in qualifying and the race, so we focused on some aero understanding during that session. FP2 followed a normal plan – with a medium tyre run, followed by the softer compound. Both drivers put in good laps on the performance runs, which was extremely positive in more representative conditions this evening.”
The longer runs allowed AlphaTauri to re-affirm any data that was recorded in testing which will be incredibly relevant for the race weekend, there was a slight issue on Tsunoda’s car bringing in the Japanese driver as a precaution but as this was towards the end of the session it had no overall impact on any plans or running. Eddolls feels that overall the day has been a positive one and is looking forward to see how the cars perform when it really matters in qualifying tomorrow.
“The longer runs we completed will allow us to confirm that the data gathered during testing here is relevant for the race weekend. Unfortunately, we saw something we weren’t comfortable with in the data on Yuki’s car, so we called him in as a precaution, however this was just a few minutes before the end of the session so had no impact on our running. Overall, I think we had a really positive day today and I’m looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”