Pierre Gasly endured what he called his “worst weekend of the season” at Silverstone two weeks ago, but after spending the whole of Friday for the Hungarian Grand Prix running in the top six for AlphaTauri, Gasly admitted he was relieved to have rediscovered some strong performance.
A puncture in the British Grand Prix saw Gasly finish outside the top 10, with the Frenchman having now scored just two points in the past three Grands Prix. But he went fifth in the opening practice session at the Hungaroring, before following that up with sixth in FP2 – much to the AlphaTauri driver’s delight.
“I’m very pleased with our performance today, especially after Silverstone,” said Gasly. “There were quite a lot of things to go through, as we struggled quite a bit there. So it’s good to see we’re back with the performance. The car felt good even in these really hot conditions, so it was a really positive day.”
Gasly did admit, however, that he’d been surprised by the performance of his compatriot Esteban Ocon in FP2, with the Alpine driver beating even Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to take fourth – Ocon lapping the short Hungaroring track a full 0.354s quicker than Gasly in FP2.
“Yes, very surprised,” said Gasly, when asked if he’d been shocked by the Alpines’ speed. “Especially Esteban was very strong this afternoon, Fernando [Alonso] was there [in P7]. They’re clearly fast, so we’ll have to see what we can improve on on our side.
“I don’t think there’s anything wrong, the car seems to work, but they just seem to have more pace so far, so we’ll try to get them tomorrow.”
2021 Hungarian GP FP1: Tsunoda crashes into the barriers at Hungaroring
With thunderstorms forecast in the vicinity of the Hungaroring tonight, meanwhile, Gasly said AlphaTauri would need to be on their toes if track conditions changed drastically on Saturday.
“I think it’s going to rain overnight and also tomorrow morning, so probably different track conditions [on Saturday],” said Gasly. “We’ll have to see what it does and try to anticipate the conditions. But at least the base of the car seems to be good and we can go into tomorrow confident that if we do our job well, we should perform.”
Gasly’s positive day was balanced at AlphaTauri by the struggles of team mate Yuki Tsunoda, who backed his car into the Turn 4 barriers in FP1, before spending the majority of FP2 in the garage as the Italian team effected repairs on the Japanese driver’s AT02.