Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Pierre Gasly feels that the first two practice sessions in Imola might be the best AlphaTauri have done.
After finishing fifth in the morning session, Gasly’s best FP2 time of 1:15.629 saw him end the day third fastest, less than tenth off the Mercedes drivers.
The Frenchman, who got his debut win in Monza last year and was running well at the start of the 2020 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix before technical issues ended his race, was very satisfied with his car set up, feeling that he was able to push from the get go.
“I think this has been one of our best Fridays as a team,” said Gasly. “P5 this morning and P3 this afternoon, and I was so close to the top guys. I’ve felt good in the car since the first lap and I managed to push pretty hard, as well as drive the way I wanted, so I think it’s been a successful day.
“We focused on short runs initially with the Softs, which looked strong pace wise and then completed some high-fuel laps in preparation for the race on Sunday.”
Despite enjoying that his best time was so close to the top two, the AlphaTauri driver knows that the different tyre compounds used did play a big part and his team just have to concentrate on their own goals.
“We got to stay quite calm and focus on our targets. We know that the Mercedes have a lot faster car than we have and we know they have a margin, they were on Mediums, but I think we’re just focusing on ourselves, trying to understand how to improve our car, improve our pace compared to our main rivals which is I guess Ferrari, McLaren and probably Alpine as well.
“We’ll analyse the data that we’ve collected again tonight and hopefully we can find a little bit more again in qualifying tomorrow.”
Gasly’s teammate, Yuki Tsunoda, had a tougher start to his day, initially having an excursion into the gravel before losing track time while a Power Unit issue was dealt with. The Japanese rookie had a smoother second practice session and finished the day seventh fastest.
“I didn’t manage to complete many laps during FP1, due to an issue,” said Tsunoda. “And only managed four push laps in total but the car felt good whilst I was out. The team fixed the issue during the break and I was able to build-up my pace in FP2 as I continued to push more – hopefully I’ll be able to improve again in tomorrow’s practice session ahead of qualifying.”
Even with his disrupted day, Tsunoda says he did learn a lot from practice, especially about tyre management, and will be doing his homework on that ahead of tomorrow’s sessions.
“I’ve completed a lot of laps here pre-season, but I think I still managed to gain a lot from the sessions today. I particularly learnt about tyre management around this circuit and have a lot of interesting data from the softs that I can now go and analyse.”