AlphaTauri opted to wait until this weekend’s French Grand Prix to debut its first major upgrade package for the AT03 car, causing it to lose ground on many of its midfield rivals in recent weeks.
The team has failed to score any points in the last three races, a feat only matched by Williams, but Gasly and teammate Yuki Tsunoda both got the chance to run the updated package on Friday at Paul Ricard.
The upgrades focused mainly on the floor, but also included an updated diffuser and engine cover designed to offer greater aerodynamic load. Gasly ran the new package in both sessions, finishing fifth in FP1 and seventh in FP2, while Tsunoda had it from the start of FP2.
Although Gasly was wary to draw any definitive conclusions after only one day, the Frenchman was generally upbeat about the boost offered by the updates.
“Just having a rough overview of our day, clearly in terms of performance, we seem to be back in the top 10, with fifth this morning and seventh this afternoon,” Gasly said after FP2.
“In terms of feeling, straightaway out in FP1, in terms of behaviour and the way the car reacts, handling around the track, there were a lot of positive signs with the new parts we brought.
“I’m pretty happy. It’s pretty good to have this package as well for my home race and with all the people around the track.
“Now we just need to work, try to understand from what we tested today, and put everything together for quali tomorrow.”
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT03
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
Gasly said the front-end of the car was “a bit sharper” and a bit more direct in the corner: and that the car “sticks a bit better.”
“I have a bit more control inside the car and what I can do, and that’s good,” Gasly added.
Asked if he had more confidence with the car thanks to the update, Gasly replied: “I would say so.
“It wasn’t really a confidence issue, it was the car wouldn’t really react the way we wanted, and this I think we did a step forward.”
Tsunoda said that he “felt the difference straightaway” when using the new package and that it was “quite a bit one, so I’m quite happy.”
“I feel clearly a gain in load in medium to high speed, straightaway that was positive,” he added.
“Obviously I had it from FP2, so that just meant my driving and also the balance, it’s not enough probably, but hopefully we can find those things in FP3, and aim for Q3 in qualifying.”