Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda will be hoping that their woes at the Italian Grand Prix last time out, won’t be repeated this weekend at the Russian Grand Prix as the team looks set to get back into the points at the Sochi Autodrom.
Despite qualifying superbly, Pierre Gasly suffered a torrid sprint qualifying after crashing out on the opening lap, before suffering an equally disappointing race after being forced into retirement in the opening laps due to a mechanical issue.
The Frenchman goes into the Russian Grand Prix hoping to bounce back strongly after performing so well this season. Sochi has been a successful venue for the Frenchman in the past, Gasly qualified in the top ten at the circuit last season and then finished the race in ninth.
Gasly is trying to remain positive despite the disappointment of what happened in Italy and is looking forward to Russia this weekend.
“What happened in Monza was regrettable, as I believe we could have done something good there, especially when you look at how the race went. The weekend ended very badly for the team, for me and for Yuki after our performance had been very good leading up to the race and I had a super Qualifying. A real shame, but there has been a positive trend after the summer break as our performance level was very good at all three races since then.
“Sochi next, where last year I got to Q3 and finished in the top 10. I quite like the track, even if the layout features a lot of corners that are very similar to one another. The last sector is quite technical, the long straights mean you get some nice fights and overtaking moves. The fact the circuit is in the Olympic Park gives it a special “sports” atmosphere and Sochi itself has evolved over the years.”
“You need a car that has good traction” – Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda too suffered a miserable weekend at Monza. The rookie driver was eliminated in qualifying one, struggled in sprint qualifying and then retired from the main race before it had even started.
Nevertheless Sochi has been a good circuit to Tsunoda in the past, the Japanese driver has raced at the track over recent years in Formula 3 and Formula 2. Tsunoda has even stepped foot on the podium at the circuit as recently as last year, the rookie finished second in the Formula 2 feature race last season after starting on pole.
His recent success at the circuit gives Tsunoda confidence that he can have a strong weekend at what is a unique circuit.
“At Sochi, most of the corners are 90 degrees and very similar to each other, so you need to have a good technique for driving 90-degree corners! Plus, you need a car that has good traction out of the corner exit to have enough speed down the straights that follow them. It feels like a normal track, but it’s really more of a city-street circuit and so track evolution is massive over the weekend and the wing effect is quite huge.
“I am confident that I can do well there and continue to make progress over a race weekend. I have raced at Sochi in Formula 3 and last year in Formula 2 and I have good memories of that. I took pole position and finished second in the Feature Race.”