AlphaTauri explain their ‘disjointed’ Saudi Saturday

Jon Wilde
Pierre Gasly pushing the AlphaTauri. Jeddah March 2022.

AlphaTauri have explained the challenges they faced on qualifying day for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – which meant Yuki Tsunoda could not set a time.

Tsunoda is among three drivers – along with Nicholas Latifi and Sebastian Vettel’s stand-in at Aston Martin, Nico Hulkenberg – who have yet to make a Q2 appearance so far this season.

In Jeddah, the Japanese driver could not even get to do a flying lap and that means he will start 19th and last in the race following the withdrawal of Mick Schumacher after his big Q2 shunt.

But the issues were not exclusively on Tsunoda’s side of the AlphaTauri garage because Pierre Gasly did not have a trouble-free Saturday either, even though he will line up in a respectable ninth position.

“Although we have been reasonably quick here in every session, we haven’t had a very smooth event so far with both drivers,” said AlphaTauri’s technical director Jody Egginton.

“This has meant the progress has been very disjointed on both sides of the garage and the workload higher than ideal.

“Frustratingly for everyone, Yuki had a suspected water system issue during Q1, which meant he was unable to capitalise on the good form he has shown so far here.

“Pierre suffered a disrupted FP3 but recovered well. The Q3 strategy was based around two runs, but unfortunately the second run wasn’t perfect and we have ended up P9 in what was a very tight qualifying battle for fifth to 10th.

“In summary, although the AT03 has shown some reasonable pace so far in this event, as a team we haven’t managed to maximise the grid position with one car, so achieving this remains a key point to address for the next event.”

Gasly revealed a bit more about what had happened to his car in FP3.

“We suffered some damage to the floor during Q1. We managed to tape this during the session and get through to the top 10,” said the Frenchman.

 

As for Tsunoda, he said he was unaware of any problem while on track in Q1 until informed by his race engineer he had to return to the pits.

“I didn’t feel anything in the car, but the team told me there was a problem and I had to come in,” said the 21-year-old, who started 16th in Bahrain last weekend but finished eighth.

“It’s such a shame I wasn’t able to run as I was feeling quite confident in the car this weekend and our aim was to get through to Q3.

“It won’t be as easy to overtake here as it was in Bahrain, with most corners being high speed, but I’ll try my best to make my way forward.”