Pierre Gasly looks to be an early candidate for a grid penalty after his AlphaTauri became a “barbecue” towards the end of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
That description was coined by the Frenchman himself in a post-race interview after he became the first driver to retire from a grand prix in the 2022 season and F1’s new era of regulations.
On lap 46 of 57, Gasly pulled over with his car on fire, triggering a Safety Car period after which Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez also exited with suspected fuel pump problems.
Therefore, it was not a good day for the Red Bull-owned teams or the company’s new Powertrains operation given what happened to Gasly’s car – although Yuki Tsunoda salvaged a few points for AlphaTauri by finishing eighth.
However, the chances of a grid penalty for Gasly have increased because there are fears one of his permitted two energy stores for the season may have to be ditched. That would almost certainly mean a penalty as 22 races with the remaining one alone would appear impossible.
back to back battles in the desert ✌️ bring on another race under lights! ✨ pic.twitter.com/xHnkYXji8z
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) March 24, 2022
“It was an instantaneous failure, a total power loss electrically,” AlphaTauri’s technical director Jody Egginton told Motorsport.com.
“It’s potentially related to the battery, we don’t know exactly. So we are still investigating. We’ve got to find the fault first, but one scenario is we have to change a power unit element.
“One minute the car was running, then it was off, total failure. We lost power immediately, the car stopped and we had a fire.
“The source of the fire could be things that were very hot not being cooled properly. We’ve had a look at it, there’s a lot of superficial damage.”
Egginton admitted the crew had a lot of work to get through before the opening free practice session on Friday for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah.
“We are still assessing, but as a minimum the rear suspension will be new, a lot of the wiring will be new, the bodywork was singed,” Egginton added.
“We will assess the battery, we will assess the ICE because a lot of fire extinguishant went over the car. Worst case, it’s a power unit element and a chassis, but at the moment it’s too early to say.
“Anything that’s connected to the power unit or the gearbox would have got hot, the fire was around the area. And again, everything’s had fire extinguishant all over it.
“So we could potentially change all these bits and send them back to the factory for full inspection.”
Mixed fortunes for AlphaTauri
AlphaTauri had a mixed weekend in Bahrain.