After clocking laps good enough for the top five in both practice sessions at Spa, Pierre Gasly is understandably very happy with AlphaTauri’s speed.
The Frenchman looked straight back to form after the summer break, picking up from where he left off following the first half of the season in free practice by putting himself P3 and P5 on Friday.
Lando Norris feels that AlphaTauri are ahead of McLaren on pace heading into Saturday, and Gasly was impressed with how he and his team have got back up to speed straight away.
“I must say, coming back from summer break, we haven’t run the car for a few weeks and the engineers and mechanics have been away, it’s good to restart in the best shape possible,” Gasly told Formula1.com.
“And that’s exactly what we did, this morning with the third [fastest] time and this afternoon with the fifth fastest time. So a very positive start, and it’s good to see.”
Both practice sessions took place in changeable conditions, starting with a damp track and drying out for the drivers to set representative lap times.
While he acknowledged that there is still more pace to be extracted from his AT02, Gasly feels that the car underneath him already feels well prepared for the weekend ahead.
“There is always some extra speed to find, and we know the areas to focus on,” he said. “With the weather, we saw it today – the track condition has changed five or six times since this morning.
“So, tomorrow could be wet. We need to be prepared for all sorts of conditions, but at least the baseline we have seems to work.
“I’m just happy to be back driving again, and hopefully we can confirm our good pace tomorrow.”
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As for Yuki Tsunoda, he was unable to break into the top 10 during practice on Friday and, after spinning in FP1, quipped that he’s becoming accustomed to that feeling.
“I’m getting used to it for those spins,” the AlphaTauri driver said to Formula1.com with a smile. “But it was not a good thing. But it’s been building up the pace [on Friday].
“My main target this week has been consistency and no big mistakes, so at the moment, going well I think in terms of building up and feeling the pace, feeling the car to make it better.
“I think also, as a team, the pace is there if I see Pierre’s pace, so the car is there. I need to adjust that last little bit in qualifying, but until then, just keep this pace, keep building up and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”