Pierre Gasly admitted there was some head-scratching to do overnight after two contrasting free practice sessions at the Bahrain International Circuit on Friday.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri driver topped the opening session on Friday afternoon, but when the track cooled under the floodlights of the evening session, the Frenchman was only able to finish down in thirteenth position.
Gasly says they will need to look into why the pace disappeared from the AT-03 when the track cooled, although he was encouraged by the cars long-run pace. However, he knows it will be important to qualify well on Saturday evening, which will again be held under the floodlights in Bahrain.
“We’ve had two very different sessions today; we topped the timings in FP1 and then in the second session we were P13, so two very contrasting outcomes,” said Gasly. “I think purely for us the hotter track conditions helped, the car really seemed to click, but tonight we struggled massively in the cold.
“We need to look through everything and understand what happened, especially as Qualifying and the race are both at night here in Bahrain. I think our long run pace was slightly better than the shorter runs, but still we’ve got a lot of work to do to fully understand our performance in these conditions.”
“We’ll have to work hard tonight to see what the limitations were today” – Yuki Tsunoda
Team-mate Yuki Tsunoda also fell down the order in the second session on Friday, with the Japanese driver placing ninth in the afternoon and fourteenth in the evening.
Tsunoda also says the team will need to work hard overnight to understand why they appeared to struggle, although one positive was that he was feeling much more comfortable behind the wheel of the AT-03 than he had been during testing.
“We started quite well today with FP1, but in the second session we started to struggle a bit,” said Tsunoda. “We’ll have to work hard tonight to see what the limitations were today and see how we can improve for tomorrow.
“We’ve made a big step up after the tests and I’m much more comfortable in the car, but we’ve still got a couple of tenths to find and then I hope we’ll be closer to that top group.
“We’ve got one practice session left so we’ve still got to time to make some improvements ahead of Qualifying.”