Scuderia AlphaTauri had a good car all weekend at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Unfortunately, Yuki Tsunoda couldn’t capitalise on a strong start to the race, coming in thirteenth after a rear-wing failure. Pierre Gasly had a much better Grand Prix after finishing a superb fifth, only having been overtaken by the seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages at the Baku City Circuit.
Guillaume Dezoteux, AlphaTauri’s Head of Vehicle Performance explained the team’s “mixed emotions” following the weekend.
“We are all extremely happy to achieve a great, and well-deserved, fifth place with Pierre. However, we are very disappointed for Yuki, who lost a possible sixth position due to mechanical damage around the rear wing DRS mechanism and flap. The race was intense and following a strong first stint on the medium tyre, we decided to use the opportunity of the first Virtual Safety Car period to pit both cars and switch to hard tyres“.
As Tsunoda got the black and orange flag, he should have realistically retired. However, the Japanese driver just carried on with a quickly taped up Drag Reduction System, which he was told not to use. The FIA were quick to come down to the AlphaTauri garage, when they saw what the team was doing to “fix” the car. By that point, it was too late and Tsunoda had gotten back on the track.
“For Yuki, the mechanical damage meant we were forced to stop and repair the issue, losing many positions,” Dezoteux explained.
“We apologise to him, he did a fantastic job this weekend and deserved this result. Anyway, this weekend boosts our morale. We have been able to close the gap to sixth place in the Constructors’ Championship and the target is to confirm this good form in Canada next week”
The head of vehicle performance said the tyre change “was a little bit earlier than we had hoped and we knew it would be a long way to the end of the race. Both drivers did a fantastic job at managing the tyres and the car, everything was looking good and steady. Unfortunately, thanks to the second VSC, Hamilton could fit a second set of Hards and pass us just seven laps before the end of the race. Pierre kept his head down and finished the race P5 with good pace, considering his very old tyres”