AlphaTauri’s ‘fragile’ front wings worrying Gasly

Date published: September 24 2021 - Jon Wilde

Pierre Gasly's AlphaTauri with a broken front wing. Sakhir March 2021.

Pierre Gasly is concerned about the structural integrity of AlphaTauri’s front wings after damaging another in FP2 for the Russian Grand Prix.

Several times this year the Frenchman has broken his front wing, two of them in opening-lap incidents with Daniel Ricciardo – at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix and in Monza’s sprint qualifying, the latter causing him to lose control of the car and hit the barrier.

This time, there was no other driver involved, Gasly simply running over what he described as a ‘banana’ kerb at Sochi – also known as a ‘sausage’ kerb – and ripping off the front wing at the end of the session.

“It seems like our front wings are quite fragile,” Gasly told Motorsport.com. “[I lost one] with Daniel at Monza, also in Bahrain, and Yuki [Tsunoda lost one] in Monza as well.

“I understeered a bit, so I was going to hit the kerb right in the middle of the car, so I opened to go behind it, thinking it would be better. And in the end, the whole front wing went off. So we need to see if we can do something for that, but no big concern.

“In cases like this, bananas are not made to destroy the car, just to kind of slow you down. It was a bit surprising.”

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Despite that, Gasly gave another excellent illustration of his single-lap pace, which has been a feature of this season, clocking the third fastest time of FP2 behind Mercedes duo Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.

More than three tenths of a second quicker than anyone else, it suggested a podium is far from out of the question given Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will start the race at the back of the grid due to engine penalties.

 

“Really happy about it,” Gasly told Formula 1. “Inside the car it’s still not easy, I’m not feeling 100% comfortable with the balance and quite a few things still to improve.

“But very positive in terms of performance – we are there, that’s the most important, and it’s good going forward into the weekend.

“We know Charles is taking a penalty so there will be some opportunities. At the moment, we are just trying to really focus on our package.

“The main target for us is the two Alpines. Fernando [Alonso] and Esteban [Ocon] put in some fast laps as well. I expect a tight battle with them but it’s important to start catching them in the Championship.”