Pierre Gasly was delighted with his performance on the opening day of the Belgian Grand Prix weekend on Friday, with the Frenchman placing inside the top five in both free practice sessions.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda driver was third fastest in the morning’s running before ending the day with the fifth fastest time, under half a second down on the pace setting time of Max Verstappen in the sister Red Bull Racing team.
Gasly says the team have made a good start to the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps and the baseline set-up is there, but there is always time to find and there will be lots to do overnight to prepare for the rest of the weekend.
“I’m really happy to be back racing again after the summer break, particularly at such a great track like Spa,” said Gasly. “It was important for us to have the best start possible this weekend and I think that’s what we’ve done today, finishing P3 and P5.
“We know the areas we need to focus on going into tomorrow, as of course there’s always some extra speed to find. The weather is very interchangeable here in Spa, we’ve seen it today with different conditions, and we may have rain tomorrow, so we need to be prepared for that as well.
“The baseline we have seems to work and we’re hoping we can confirm that everything is working well in Qualifying tomorrow.”
“I just need to continue improving and gaining confidence” – Yuki Tsunoda
Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda was unable to find the same kind of pace, with the Japanese racer ending outside the top ten in both sessions.
Tsunoda was experiencing Spa-Francorchamps for the first time in a Formula 1 car, but he could only manage fifteenth in the first session, a session that also saw him take a spin in the early stages at La Source.
He could only manage twelfth in the afternoon, but he knows he will need to continue to improve across the rest of the weekend if he wants to make it into the top ten in Qualifying.
“My main target this weekend is consistency and to build up the pace in the car across the practice sessions,” said Tsunoda. “I think so far this has gone well and we’ve been able to adapt across the sessions to improve our performance.
“As a team, you can see the pace is there, so I just need to continue improving and gaining confidence ahead of Qualifying tomorrow. The weather changes here are fairly traditional for Spa, it’s definitely quite difficult to drive, but I have some great memories from this circuit over the last few years and I’m excited to be driving here again, especially in a Formula 1 car.”