Teams and drivers are gearing up for their first sprint race format this weekend at the British Grand Prix, and the AlphaTauri drivers think it’s going to be a tough turnaround on Friday.
With the Sprint taking place on Saturday after FP2, teams have just one practice session on Friday ahead of Qualifying that afternoon, and so the margin for error needs to be virtually non-existent this weekend.
Pierre Gasly, who finished the Austrian Grand Prix in 9th place said the setup for the car this weekend is going to have to be virtually flawless.
The French driver is confident heading into R10, but nevertheless and said “even if we have a bit more work to do for the race, we are nevertheless in the mix, which is definitely positive.”
In preparation for the new format, Gasly said “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.”
Despite a level of confidence heading into the weekend, Gasly said the new format marks “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.
“I think generally that is because 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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, 2021 AlphaTauri rookie, Yuki Tsunoda said despite having driven at Silverstone in Formula 2, “I have never driven a Formula 1 car there before”, he said.
He explained that although he expects the new format to be tough immediately after FP1, the advantage is that this is new to everyone on the grid, from rookies to world champions.
“We only have one free practice session before Qualifying, as this weekend we try the Sprint Qualifying Race on Saturday.
“It means that the new approach I started to use in Austria will not work so well this time.
“I expect that having to perform well in Qualifying immediately after FP1 is going to be tough.
“It will be quite difficult, but I will still try and speed up step-by-step again, like in Austria. But the sprint race is something new for everyone.
” I think it is going to be quite a challenging week for everyone, but I will just focus on myself and on being as well prepared as possible.”