AlphaTauri’s head of trackside engineering Jonathan Eddolls believes that Pierre Gasly will experience a “different” atmosphere at Alpine this year, with the Faenza-based team having always been not “too harsh” on the drivers.
The Frenchman’s move to the Enstone-based outfit brought an end to his five-year stint at AlphaTauri, a period where he claimed the side multiple podiums and their first victory since the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.
He served AlphaTauri brilliantly; however, his final year with the team was arguably his most challenging, with the outfit having struggled in the first season of the new aerodynamic regulations.
Gasly wasn’t his usual consistent-self last year and had a tendency to push too hard, with Eddolls having admitted that the 2022 car was “harder to drive” than their very impressive 2021 challenger.
“I think it is fair,” Eddolls told The Race at the end of last season, after being asked if the 2022 car didn’t fit Gasly’s ‘slightly narrow window’.
“Last year  was probably one of the best years that he’s had with us. The car was competitive, it was reasonably easy to balance and we could generally come up with a good set-up.
“He had confidence in the rear-end of the car and because of that he could really extract the absolute maximum potential from it.
“This year , the stability isn’t quite what last year’s was and he needs that stability to be able to drive fast.
“And also, I think that there are times where he’s trying so hard, he was trying to drive this year’s car like it was a car that’s capable of qualifying in fourth and fifth and the car’s not quite capable of it. Then, sometimes it bites him.
“So he’s still driving as well as he was last year but the car is harder to drive, it’s harder to set up, it’s harder to find the optimum.
“This year, we’ve got the big trade-offs between the aero performance and the ride performance, because of the ground effect, you want to run them as stiff and as low as you can but then you’ve got a ride compromise.
“So it’s trying to find that trade off. Last year, it was easier to find, the car was a bit more benign, this year it’s more peaky.”
2023 marks a new chapter for Gasly, given that for the first time in his F1 career he has no ties to the Red Bull family.
Alpine will expect a lot from the Frenchman given that they are trying to push towards the frontrunners, with the 26-year-old’s first task set to be understanding how the French side work, given that he’s “fully integrated” with the AlphaTauri approach.
“It will be different for him at the start,” Eddolls predicted.
“We’re a team that are quite friendly with the drivers, we tend to not be too harsh. I don’t know how it will be there. He’s fully integrated with us.
“Both times he’s been with us, the friendly team approach was something that worked well for him to build up that confidence. Then as soon as he had the race win, we saw a step change in his approach, his level of confidence, his motivation, his belief, the way he would lead and drive the team.
“Having seen that step change in him, having won the race, I don’t see an issue with him going into another team because he’s got the confidence in himself, he’s got super leadership skills, he’s very motivating for all of us and he doesn’t need that friendly atmosphere [anymore].
“I think he can go now somewhere, be his own person and lead and drive the team. He can fit in straight away.”