It was a highly-mixed Bahrain Grand Prix for Scuderia AlphaTauri, with Yuki Tsunoda finishing eighth but team-mate Pierre Gasly retiring late on with a reliability issue. They will be hoping for a double-points finish at this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, where anything could happen.
The Bahrain Grand Prix had been going well for Gasly, right up to the point where his AT03 grinded to a halt. It certainly wasn’t how the Frenchman would’ve liked to have started the season. Gasly despite being disappointed did take a lot away from last weekend, including the understanding that the midfield this season is looking incredibly tight.
“It was a bit of a mixed weekend in Bahrain, we were very quick in FP1 but not so fast in the rest of free practice, although I made it to Q3 on Saturday and was reasonably happy with my race pace, with a double-points finish for the team seeming likely until my car stopped. The team has identified the problem and the fire meant the mechanics have had a lot more work to do than expected to rebuild the car for this weekend.
“We learned a lot about the car over the three days and it’s clear that the midfield is maybe even tighter than last year, so we must continue to work hard on understanding and developing the AT03, starting this weekend in Saudi Arabia.”
This weekend’s venue, the Jeddah Corniche Circuit, was a good one for the Frenchman last season after finishing sixth. Gasly is an enormous fan of the Saudi Arabian street circuit and is hopeful for a good weekend.
“I was impressed with the Jeddah track last year, I qualified sixth and finished the race in the same position. It’s difficult from a driving point of view, very technical with a lot of high-speed corners, which is exactly the sort of layout I enjoy. Last year, we went well in Qualifying and the race, so it will be good to go back there and see what we can do this time. The early races in the season are always important, as it helps to start off on the right foot. We will have to prepare well to have a good weekend.”
“We are not in a position to achieve the goals we have set ourselves” – Yuki Tsunoda
On the other side of the garage, Yuki Tsunoda recovered strongly during the race last Sunday. Tsunoda was knocked out in Qualifying 1 disappointingly but did well during the race to secure a points finish. The Japanese driver was happy to score points in Bahrain, especially after a difficult start to last weekend.
“I was glad to score points at the end of a tricky weekend in Bahrain. Looking at what went well, we managed to limit the problem we had in testing with porpoising, although we struggled a bit more than expected in terms of pace over the weekend, especially in FP2. But as the weekend went on, we made progress and my team-mate managed to get into Q3, although I found it more difficult, especially having missed FP3 running due to a hydraulic line issue, and we know how much any lap on track counts.”
Looking ahead to this weekend and the second round of the championship, Tsunoda is expecting another difficult weekend. The young driver recognises the importance of improving the AT03 as quickly as possible, with the team currently unable to achieve their targets.
“We can expect another challenging week in Saudi now in terms of car performance. Last year I enjoyed driving here. It’s a new generation track, and I especially liked Sector 1. My main focus this weekend will be on helping develop our car as much as possible and as quickly as possible, so that we can compete consistently at the top of the midfield. Because currently, we are not in a position to achieve the goals we have set ourselves for this season. Hopefully we can make a good step forward this weekend, get a better understanding of our car and find a few good ways to progress.”