Pierre Gasly believes the novel format of this week’s British Grand Prix might weigh on AlphaTauri’s performance as its AT02 often under-performs on race day compared to qualifying.
Teams will only have a single practice session to prepare for Friday afternoon’s qualifying session that will determine the grid for F1’s first ever Sprint Qualifying event, the result of which will form the grid for Sunday’s British Grand Prix.
Gasly says he and his team will need to be on the ball at the outset on Friday, but the Frenchman says the weekend’s format will place an even greater importance on AlphaTauri’s race pace.
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“The biggest change this weekend will be the race on Saturday, which means we only get one free practice session to set up the car before qualifying,” Gasly said in AlphaTauri’s Silverstone preview.
“That’s a major change, so it will be even more important than usual to be very well prepared before going out on track for the first time.
“We will need to have a good baseline in terms of car set-up right from the start.
“The new format means how the car works in race trim takes on greater importance and we know this is where, maybe, we have a bit more work to do compared to how the car has been performing in qualifying.”
In Austria, last time out, Gasly qualified 6th and finished his race P9. But despite the difference between the AT02’s pace in qualifying and in race trim, Gasly believes AlphaTauri will be “in the mix” next weekend.
“I think generally that we over-perform in qualifying, doing better than some other teams that struggle a bit with quali and then, in the race, we are more or less where we ought to be,” he said.
“But overall, it should be fine, because we saw in Austria, running a different strategy, we finished four or five seconds off the top five.
“So, even if we have a bit more work to do for the race, we are nevertheless in the mix, which is definitely positive.
“We’ve worked a lot with the engineers, and I’ve been in the simulator, looking at all the possible scenarios for the new format with the Sprint Qualifying race.
“It should be good fun. We’ve also got new tyres from Pirelli. It’s been done mainly for safety and from what I experienced, trying them in Austria, I think they will feel pretty similar.”
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Finally, Gasly says the pleasure of racing at Silverstone is always an added bonus, especially with thousands of fans in the grandstands.
“I love Silverstone, it’s one of my favourite tracks, especially the run through Maggots and Becketts, which is one of the most exciting sequences of the season,” he commented.
“Although overtaking is meant to be difficult at Silverstone, it is possible and I managed some good passes last year, having some enjoyable fights including passing Seb (Vettel) round the outside at the right hander before the chicane.
“I enjoyed racing in front of the fans in Austria and for Silverstone they’re announcing a full capacity crowd, the atmosphere should be great and I’m looking forward to it.”
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