AlphaTauri engineer highlights Pierre Gasly’s ‘fair’ to say problem with the new gen cars

Michelle Foster
Pierre Gasly driving. Montreal, June 2022.

AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly driving during the Canadian Grand Prix. Montreal, June 2022.

Declaring last year’s AT03 to be “more peaky” that its predecessor, AlphaTauri’s head of trackside engineering Jonathan Eddolls believes there were times Pierre Gasly tried too hard and it “bit him”.

Gasly was undoubtedly one of the stars of the 2021 Formula 1 season, the Frenchman on the podium in Azerbaijan, scoring 15 points that day towards his overall total of 110 that put him P9 in the drivers’ standings.

It had pundits calling for Red Bull to give him a second chance alongside Max Verstappen. The team stood firm on their decision not to promote him again, Gasly spending 2022 with AlphaTauri.

But unlike in 2022, he didn’t shine as he struggled to get a handle on his ground effect aerodynamic AT03. He scored just 23 points, suffering the biggest deficit compared to the previous season of any driver except Lewis Hamilton.

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Put to him by The Race in an end-of-season interview that the characteristics of the new cars didn’t Gasly’s ‘slightly narrow window’, Eddolls replied: “I think it is fair.

“Last year [2021] was probably one of the best years that he’s had with us. The car was competitive, it was reasonably easy to balance and we could generally come up with a good set-up.

“He had confidence in the rear-end of the car and because of that he could really extract the absolute maximum potential from it.

“This year [2022], the stability isn’t quite what last year’s was and he needs that stability to be able to drive fast.

“And also, I think that there are times where he’s trying so hard, he was trying to drive this year’s car like it was a car that’s capable of qualifying in fourth and fifth and the car’s not quite capable of it. Then, sometimes it bites him.

“So he’s still driving as well as he was last year but the car is harder to drive, it’s harder to set up, it’s harder to find the optimum.

“This year, we’ve got the big trade-offs between the aero performance and the ride performance, because of the ground effect, you want to run them as stiff and as low as you can but then you’ve got a ride compromise.

“So it’s trying to find that trade off. Last year, it was easier to find, the car was a bit more benign, this year it’s more peaky.”

2022 marked Gasly’s final season with AlphaTauri, the 26-year-old signing with Alpine for this season where he’ll make up one half an all-French driver line up.

Eddolls reckons his former driver is going to find the atmosphere and working environment a lot different to what he’s experienced with AlphaTauri.

“It will be different for him at the start,” he predicted. “We’re a team that are quite friendly with the drivers, we tend to not be too harsh. I don’t know how it will be there. He’s fully integrated with us.

“Both times he’s been with us, the friendly team approach was something that worked well for him to build up that confidence. Then as soon as he had the race win, we saw a step change in his approach, his level of confidence, his motivation, his belief, the way he would lead and drive the team.

“Having seen that step change in him, having won the race, I don’t see an issue with him going into another team because he’s got the confidence in himself, he’s got super leadership skills, he’s very motivating for all of us and he doesn’t need that friendly atmosphere [anymore].

“I think he can go now somewhere, be his own person and lead and drive the team. He can fit in straight away.”