Claudio Balestri, the Chief Engineer of Vehicle Performance at Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, admits the team went into Qualifying without an optimised balance on either AT-02, but small changes were enough to see both Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda qualify in the top seven.
Gasly was able to qualify sixth for a third consecutive weekend, while Tsunoda enjoyed his best Qualifying performance to date to end up seventh, although both drivers will be starting the race on the soft compound of Pirelli tyre.
Balestri says the decision to use the soft was to ensure they had the opportunity to get into Q3, and after the decision paid off, the team will now do their homework in a bid to maximise their performance and results on race day.
“Today was a busy day,” said Balestri. “Track temperatures were very different, compared to Friday, so we had to take this into consideration when setting up our cars.
“In the morning session, we continued to test the new tyre for this event and then we focused our attention on Qualifying preparation. At the end of FP3 we were not fully satisfied, as the balance was not really optimised, especially for the softer compound at this race.
“We made some adjustments to the car ahead of Qualifying and it paid off, with both cars making it through to Q3. The session was very tricky, with other teams opting for a different tyre strategy and using the Mediums in the later stages, but we wanted to maximise our opportunity to enter Q3 and in the end it worked well.
“We now switch our focus to the race and will continue to keep an eye on the weather, as we review the data this evening.”