AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly looked impressive from the outset at Monza on Friday, the Frenchman running all day among the top tier contenders.
After a solid run in the points at Spa, the in-form Gasly extended his momentum into first practice, although teammate Daniil Kvyat was faster by a tenth.
But Galsy put his head down again in the afternoon session which he looked set to conclude third, behind Mercedes unassailable duo, until a low-fuel run by McLaren’s Lando Norris stole his thunder.
Still, the Frenchman was delighted with his opening day at the office in Italy.
Italian Grand Prix Free Practice 1 – Results
“Today was by far the best Friday since the start of the season,” Gasly said.
“We were sixth this morning and fourth in the afternoon, and I must say the feeling in the car was really good! I could push and managed to put in some good laps.
“Unfortunately, we had a small issue with a damper at the end of the session while doing the long run, so we had to stop a bit earlier than the others, but generally speaking, we are pretty happy.
“The low downforce set-up that we have here in Monza works quite well, but I feel like we can still improve a bit for tomorrow.
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“I think there will be a few surprises with the new engine mode rules, so we’ll see. It’s very tight and, especially here with the tows in Qualifying, it will be important to get it right.”
AlphaTauri chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls reckoned the team’s solid performance at Monza wasn’t all that surprising given the low-downforce profile shared by the Temple of Speed with Spa.
“Coming to Monza – which shares some similar characteristics to Spa, particularly on the aero efficiency – we were expecting to show another strong performance in the midfield,” explained Eddolls.
“We spent FP1 understanding the optimal aero configuration of the car, so we completed multiple tests across the two cars to work out what the best compromise between downforce and drag was.
“We also looked at optimizing the set-up; one of the big differences this week is that the track is considerably hotter than it was last week, so the tyres perform differently.
“We faced some different balance limitations here compared to previous weeks, so we worked toward addressing those in FP1.”
Despite the team’s productive day, Eddolls isn’t getting carried away as the FIA’s ban on special engine modes may impact the pecking order.
“It will be difficult to understand where everyone is because of the introduction of the latest technical directive, which refers to engine modes,” he said.
“We know what is best for our weekend, but we don’t know what other teams are doing on Friday.
“It will be a bit trickier to understand the true ranking of the field, but from all of the data we’ve gathered, we’re in the mix and we’ve got the ability to fight in the midfield.
“We’re looking forward to putting in a good performance for Qualifying tomorrow, as well as Sunday’s race.”
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