On the back of their podium at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, the Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda team began the French Grand Prix with relative success. Yuki Tsunoda ended the opening day in thirteenth, whereas home-boy Pierre Gasly impressed in seventh during blustery conditions.
Overall it was a good opening day for both drivers, Gasly who is racing in front of his home crowd for the first time since 2019 looked strong, ending the day eight-tenths of a second off the fastest time.
Rookie Yuki Tsunoda also had a solid opening day at the Circuit Paul Ricard, a circuit which he has actually raced at before! The Japanese driver ended the day in thirteenth, but only three-tenths of a second behind his team-mate.
The windy conditions did catch both drivers out, Tsunoda had a slow spin out of the final corner during the morning session and Gasly ran over the kerbs on the exit of turn two, damaging his floor slightly.
Nevertheless Chief Race Engineer Jonathan Eddolls is hoping that based on the team’s opening day performance, that they can challenge for a qualifying three spot on Saturday.
“We headed to France following a great result for the team in Baku but have remained realistic with our targets for this weekend, knowing that we return to a more normal circuit. One of the main areas for us to work on during Friday was setting the car up around the higher rear tyre pressures, as well as managing the performance on the very hot track.
“In addition to this required learning, FP1 was focused on a matrix of set-up work based around some finding of the car performance we observed in Baku to further understand some of the characteristics of the AT02 and how we can apply these to more standard tracks. So, it was a very busy session for both cars and unfortunately, we sustained some damage to the floor of Pierre’s car after running wide in T2.
“He lost some laps with this, but we still gathered plenty of data to analyse for FP2. We used this learning to further adapt the set-up of both cars for this afternoon’s session and the changes appeared to be a step in the right direction.
“We didn’t have the cleanest of laps, due to traffic again, but piecing together the laps the performance is looking encouraging and in line with our expectations, particularly given both drivers felt there was still room to work on the balance. We have a lot to look through tonight, but we will aim to put it all together and target Q3 tomorrow.”