It was a good opening day for the Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda team, Frenchman Pierre Gasly looked strong in front of his home fans ending the day in seventh place, ahead of thirteenth place team-mate Yuki Tsunoda.
At a windy Circuit Paul Ricard, the French flags flew high with 15,000 fans allowed in every day this weekend, giving home-boy Gasly a special feeling after now also being a race winner.
Like the majority of the field Gasly found the conditions tricky, nevertheless he improved by a whole second in Free Practice Two to end the day in seventh, after being eighth after Free Practice One. The Frenchman was 0.824 seconds off the fastest time.
Gasly will be hoping to keep the impressive start to the weekend going, and do all he can to make qualifying three on Saturday.
“Today was an ok day, however it’s been quite difficult with the wind which has made the car very tricky to drive. In terms of performance, I think it’s good that we’ve ended both sessions within the top 10, but it’s definitely been more difficult than the last two weekends. We’ve been working on the balance of the car today, so we’ll analyse all the data tonight and make some improvements to the set-up of the car to be more confident out on track tomorrow.”
“I’m racing in front of my home fans here and I’m aiming to reach Q3 again in Qualifying. It’s so great seeing this many French flags in the grandstands here, I really want to do well for the people here supporting me this weekend, so they’ve got something to celebrate on Sunday.”
“I was happy with the car behaviour” – Tsunoda
For rookie Yuki Tsunoda it was a less stressful start to the weekend compared to recent races, unlike the last couple rounds Tsunoda has raced around the Circuit Paul Ricard before.
Overall it was a good day for Tsunoda, the Japanese driver did have a slow spin out of the final corner in Free Practice One, but other than that it was plain sailing for the rookie, who ended the day in thirteenth place and 0.3 seconds behind team-mate Gasly.
With the midfield being separated by only a few tenths, qualifying three could well be on the cards for Tsunoda.
“It’s been a good day. I think the approach here in France compared to the last few races is a bit easier, as I’ve already got experience driving here at Paul Ricard. I had a spin in the morning, but I think we’ve made good progress through the two sessions today. I struggled a bit with the set-up in FP2, but we adapted really well and by the end of the day I was happy with the car behaviour.”
“My confidence in the car is definitely returning and my result in Baku has helped with that. We still have lots of work to do ahead of Qualifying and the field is very tight, so it’s going to be very competitive but the pace is definitely there.”