Alpine’s Pierre Gasly reckons his former AlphaTauri team is fully capable of establishing itself as the fifth best outfit on the grid this year.
The Frenchman joined AlphaTauri under its Toro Rosso guise in the latter part of 2017, and went on to start 96 races with the team over two spells, either side of a torrid half season at Red Bull in 2019.
Gasly’s three podiums in three consecutive years with the Red Bull junior side between 2019 and 2021 featured a race win at the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, with his last podium to date arriving in Baku just under a year later.
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In 2021, the 26-year-old scored points on 15 occasions, taking a top 10 finish in the Drivers’ Standings, while rookie team-mate Yuki Tsunoda’s tally of 32 points helped AlphaTauri finish the Constructors’ Championship sixth.
Last season, however, was underwhelming. Just 35 points in total and a best finish of fifth saw AlphaTauri finish ahead only of Williams in the standings, with the overhaul in the technical regulations ultimately catching the Italian side out.
Tsunoda will be joined next year by Nyck de Vries who, after a mightily impressive performance with Williams at the Italian Grand Prix last season, replaces Gasly following the departure of Fernando Alonso for Aston Martin.
Given a decent car and with two capable drivers behind the wheel, Gasly sees no reason why his former employer cannot climb up the championship table in 2023.
“They have what it takes to race in the upper midfield, just like we did in 2021” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
“That’s when we had the car to be fifth in the World Championship. It was Yuki’s first season in Formula 1 at the time. If it had been his second, and he had delivered the performance of 2022, I’m sure we would have finished fifth. That’s why I see the potential.
“The people are there, the structures are in place. The changes to the regulations – with the budget cap and staggered wind tunnel times – should help the midfield teams. So I see no reason why Alpha Tauri shouldn’t be fighting in the upper midfield.”
As for the form dip between 2021 and 2022, the Rouen-born driver has a theory behind that.
“I would say, and this is my personal opinion, that we had deficits in the area of efficiency,” explained Gasly.
“From the aerodynamics point of view. We drove with too much drag for the downforce that the car generates. And there was just a general lack of downforce. That affected other areas.
“The car slid more, the tyres heated up more. Then you slide even more, and you have more thermal-related wear. A small step in downforce has a big impact on your overall performance in the race.
“I do think the car had potential. But what also weakened us was we were very much over the minimum weight all season. We’re talking about a few tenths of a second. We didn’t manage to shed that excess weight.
“If we’d had those few tenths at the start of the season, we’d have been in the front midfield in at least the first eight races. And that would have had an impact on the final standings.”
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