Yuki Tsunoda felt Scuderia AlphaTauri had a good Friday at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, even though the Japanese racer’s day was shortened after a driveline issue saw him stop on track towards the end of the second free practice session.
Tsunoda finished an impressive sixth fastest in the first session on Friday and tenth in the second, and he felt the AT-03 felt good throughout the day. However, he knows there is still time to find if they want to be a genuine top ten contender come the important sessions on Saturday and Sunday.
“Until the last few moments in FP2, the car had felt okay today,” said Tsunoda. “There are still lots of things to work on at the moment, but we’ve been able to gather a lot of crucial data across both cars, which is still hugely important so that we can learn more about them and find a clearer direction to go with this car.”
Tsunoda hopes the team will be able to solve the problem that befell him late in the day on Friday and put a fix in place to prevent it happening again, and he will be using final practice on Saturday to work through the final set-up work before Qualifying.
“Hopefully we can understand the issue we’ve had tonight and get it fixed for tomorrow’s FP3, so we can then put it altogether when it comes to Quali,” he said.
“We believe that we’re in the mix of the top ten” – Pierre Gasly
Team-mate Pierre Gasly finished fifth fastest in the first session on Friday, but floor damage cost him in the second as he could only manage the twelfth fastest time.
The Frenchman, who retired from a points-paying position during last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, believes the AT-03 is good enough to qualify and race inside the top ten this weekend in Saudi Arabia, even if he expects the midfield battle to be an intense one amongst many teams.
“It’s been a good two practice sessions today,” said Gasly. “We sustained some damage in FP2 on the floor, so we haven’t shown our true pace yet, but we believe that we’re in the mix of the top ten and I expect a very intense battle tomorrow amongst all the midfield teams.
“We know we’ve got some work to do but we’ll focus on improving the car for tomorrow and I think it could be quite an exciting race based on what we’ve seen today.”