Jonathan Eddolls, the Chief Race Engineer at Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, says it was great to be racing again at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the team’s home track, although Friday morning’s practice session was extremely difficult from an engineering point of view.
The reason why it was difficult was some of the systems crashing at the Imola track, which left engineers up and down the pit lane in the dark as they were unable to track the car as they normally would around the circuit. The problems also affected the television feed.
“It’s great to be back here racing at the team’s home circuit, it’s such an amazing track – I know the drivers love it and we certainly do too from an engineering side,” said Eddolls.
“FP1 was a slightly more difficult session than normal due to some of the systems being down – which obviously was the same for everyone – but it shows how reliant we are on these, particularly the timings, GPS and TV feed. It definitely made it more of a challenge for us engineers.”
Back on track, AlphaTauri enjoyed a positive day, with Pierre Gasly finishing inside the top four in both sessions. The Frenchman placed fourth in the morning before improving to third in the afternoon, less than a tenth of a second shy of Valtteri Bottas at the head of the timing screens.
On the other side of the garage, Yuki Tsunoda did not have such a great opening session, with the Japanese racer suffering a power unit issue that saw him end at the bottom of the times. However, he recovered superbly in the afternoon and after some changes to the set-up, ended up seventh.
And Eddolls feels the on-track performances and the pace shown by both cars can give the team confidence heading into the rest of the weekend.
“During the morning session we completed some aero testing on Yuki’s car, as we’ve brought some new components here this weekend and want to sign these off ahead of the race,” said Eddolls.
“Unfortunately, we had a PU issue on Yuki’s car so only managed limited running in FP1, which meant he wasn’t able to get up to speed quite so quickly. We made some changes to his car ahead of FP2 and everything seems to be back to normal now, which is positive.
“Pierre completed a standard run plan in FP1; we mostly tried to understand how to operate the tyres in these unusually cold temperatures – concentrating on how to maximise them during the short runs and how to limit the graining during the longer runs.
“Overall, I think it’s looking positive so far this weekend – the performance over the shorter runs is there and we’ve now got to work with the data tonight to ensure that the pace is there for Qualifying tomorrow.”