AlphaTauri see Pierre Gasly’s experience in the team as being “crucial” to the development of the AT02 – especially for Yuki Tsunoda.
Gasly has now driven for AlphaTauri – formerly known as Toro Rosso – in five consecutive seasons, although in 2019 he spent the first half of the campaign with Red Bull before being dropped back down.
The relatively static regulations for 2021 mean Gasly is in a strong position to assess the evolution of the AlphaTauri car, having won last season’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza for the team and therefore knows exactly what it is capable of.
That knowledge will also help Tsunoda, the F1 rookie of whom AlphaTauri and the Red Bull operation in general have extremely high hopes following some impressive single-lap displays so far and a P9 finish on the Japanese driver’s race debut in the Bahrain Grand Prix. He has even been touted as a potential World Champion.
Quoted by GP Fans, AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton said of Gasly, who had to retire from the opener in Bahrain: “He is crucial because he has the reference to last year, and this year’s car is an evolution of last year’s car.
“So it’s a key point that he knows how last year’s car performed, as do his engineering crew. That helps Yuki – if he’s struggling with something, he has a reference.
“Obviously a lot of teams we are racing have two experienced drivers, so it’s a different scenario for them but it’s good what we have.
“Pierre is a solid reference back to last year. He’s able to tell us in detail what’s better, what’s worse, what has changed, and that combined with the correlation helps us answer some of the questions Yuki may have.
“We can tell him that’s expected, that’s not expected. We’ll work on this, that’s the second order. It steadies the ship a little bit.”
Complementing Gasly’s knowhow is the positive impact provided by Tsunoda’s fresh perspective on the AT02, according to Egginton.
He added: “Yuki also raises some questions where that’s quite an interesting thought. The way he drives the car is a little bit different to Pierre, so it’s a bit of a mix really.
“The key point is that he has the speed to be able to contribute.”