Scuderia AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly has praised Honda’s new power unit, hailing its reliability and saying it appears to be more powerful than its predecessor, though he stressed it’s impossible to get the full picture in testing.
Scuderia AlphaTauri’s 2021 car looked strong in pre-season testing in Bahrain earlier this month, with Gasly and his Japanese rookie team-mate Yuki Tsunoda completing plenty of laps and setting some impressive lap times.
Speaking just a matter of days before the 2021 season gets underway at the same circuit, Gasly described the Bahrain test as his best ever pre-season test with the Italy-based team.
“I can’t wait to go racing! It’s the first time we start the season at the same track where we had three days of testing just a short time ago, which is like having extra free practice sessions,” Gasly said on Monday.
“It means we have a good idea of what we need for this Sakhir track.
“The aim of the test was to understand our new car, particularly the new aero package in order to get the most out of it during the season.
“I’d say we had the best ever pre-season test since I joined this team: we did more laps than any other team and it was really productive.
“Actually, looking at all the teams, the level of performance and reliability achieved in Formula 1 is really impressive, if you compare it to winter testing from just a few years ago, when it was normal for everyone to have quite a few problems. There has been a lot of technological progress.
“We had no technical or mechanical worries, which is very encouraging. Those first laps gave me a good feeling with the car and there are a lot of positives to take away from the test.
“In the time since then, everyone in the team has worked very hard to prepare for the first race and I hope that pays off this weekend.”
Continuing, the Frenchman said the changes to the 2021 regulations – which aim to cut the cars’ rear downforce levels – have resulted in them having “a little bit less grip everywhere.”
Gasly added that the changes don’t appear to have significantly affected the car’s handling and balance.
“The overall balance is similar, it’s just there’s less grip so you are slower through the corners. But it’s not a big difference.
“Apart from that, the first time we tested the car it gave us a baseline that worked straight away. We were able to work on fine tuning in some corners and now it’s down to the engineers working mainly in the wind tunnel to push to try and find more downforce through the year.
“But we have a really good base from which to start the year and the car also reacts well to any changes we make to it, which is a good sign.”
Gasly also commented on the new Honda engine which will be powering Scuderia AlphaTauri and Red Bull this year.
He hailed the new power unit’s reliability over the three days of testing and seemed confident that it will be more competitive than its predecessor, though he emphasised that it’s difficult to get a sense of its true performance from testing alone.
“During the test, we didn’t push flat out very often, so it’s hard to get an accurate picture of the improvement on the PU side, but I know what Honda has done and it was encouraging that we had zero bother on the PU over the three days, even though we did a huge number of laps.
“We’ll get a better idea when we push harder at the first race.”