In an interview given after the preseason testings in Bahrain, Pierre Gasly could not hide his excitement before the start of the 2021 season, admitting the team had a very positive three days in Bahrain.
“But to be honest, after three days, it’s a lot better than where we were at the same time in Barcelona [last year] , after the same amount of time”, Gasly says.
Indeed, it is safe to say that AlphaTauri showed great pace as well as good reliability during last weeks’ three days of pre-season testings. Tsunoda managed to put up the second-fastest overall time whereas Gasly looked unflappable allying speed and consistency throughout all his sessions. The AT02 looked so good on track that some people at McLaren even admitted that the Italian team could be involved in the fight for third or fourth place this year.
“We’ve managed to do all the programs we wanted to do. I think we have a good idea of what we have, what we need to improve, what are our strengths. It’s been really positive.”
“I think there are good reasons to be excited”, Gasly adds.
The French prodigy is also happy about the 2021 engine, considering its perfect reliability throughout the tests, in opposition to Ferrari’s engine for example that compelled Leclerc to stop his car on track during the first session of the winter testings.
Nonetheless, Gasly knows the team still has some areas to improve and is monitoring Mercedes’ engines that could be even faster than what it already looked like during the testings.
“We’re trying to work on the areas that we have to work on, because this car, even if it seems to be quite good, there’s still areas that we need to improve. But I think there are good reasons to be excited, and I hope that we’ll be able to put in some strong performances early on in the season because it’s going to be important”, the 2020 Italian Grand Prix winner admits.
“But we saw Mercedes have a very strong engine. They showed it with McLaren and Williams, and you can see that they have a lot of potential. I don’t want to get too excited before we get to qualifying, and then I think we’ll get the full picture in two weeks”, he says in the conclusion.
If AlphaTauri wants to get on-track action against Aston Martin and McLaren this year, they will definitely need a very solid engine. However, even though Honda’s power unit improved a lot since last year and should even be faster than the 2020 Mercedes engine, no one is risking himself at stating that it could compete against this year’s Mercedes V6 Hybrid power unit.