AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly laments the fact that it is more difficult this season for his team to challenge Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes than it was last year.
Gasly qualified in the top five 10 times last season for the Italian side, and managed that feat in the both of the opening two rounds of the year, but his best qualifying position so far in 2022 has been P7, which he achieved in Miami.
The Faenza-based squad have also not been on the podium this season and, where there had been five teams on the rostrum in the opening six rounds of last year, there have been only three in the opening seven rounds of 2022.
It shows that, while the new technical regulations have improved overtaking, it will take a while for everyone else to catch up to Ferrari and Red Bull but, when they do, the races will be unpredictable almost every weekend.
Until that happens though, it is all a bit frustrating for the AlphaTauri team who, this weekend, return to the scene of Gasly’s podium finish last year in Baku.
“This year, there is no way to challenge,” the Frenchman said.
“It’s clearly a big step. Only Valtteri Bottas can challenge at times. We’re literally fighting for seventh, which is a bit sad, because clearly the target was to close up.
“I think if you look from fourth-fastest to probably the last actually, I think we all bunched up quite a lot, but the top three is a different world.”
Where the 26-year-old was occasionally able to disrupt the top four positions last season, there is a much greater deficit this season, to the extent that even a perfect lap does not reap the desired rewards.
“Last year, I got excited many times because I could outqualify a Ferrari, sometimes the Red Bulls, sometimes Mercedes,” explained Gasly.
“I felt like this top three, they were faster, but they were not in such a different league that you couldn’t tease them sometimes.
“Today I think even if you’re driving a Ferrari or Red Bull, you can go completely wide at one corner and still qualify in the top six, compared to a guy who nailed his lap with another car.”
Gasly is currently 14th in the Drivers’ Championship, five points and two positions behind team-mate Yuki Tsunoda, who has been mightily impressive in the early going this year.