Pierre Gasly is approaching the end of his six-year journey with Scuderia AlphaTaurias the Frenchman approaches the last two races of his time with the Faenza-based team.
the BWT Alpine F1 Team-bound driver goes into this weekend’s Sao Paulo Grand Prix on the back of a messy race at the Mexican City Grand Prix, where the driver as awarded his tenth penalty point of the season. Should he claim two more miss this weekend, then he will miss the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Gasly enters the weekend positive, with the performance of the AT03 having improved across the last couple of rounds.
“I can look ahead to the final two races of the season taking some encouragement from the fact our performance level in Austin and Mexico was pretty good. Sure, I had penalties both times which meant there were no points, but in both places we were fighting for the top ten and I hope that will also be the case in Brazil.”
This weekend’s race at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace is, of course, a very special one for Gasly. The AlphaTauri driver claimed his first-ever F1 podium at the circuit in Interlagos back in 2019, where he claimed second.
Whilst a similar result this weekend is unlikely, Gasly is hoping that the predicted heavy rain will present some opportunities, where the Frenchman will be ready to “take our chances”.
“It’s always special to go to Interlagos, as I got my first podium there in 2019 and last year I finished seventh. Generally, I’ve gone well in Brazil, and I also have a lot of fans there. I’m looking forward to the weekend, even though this year, everywhere we go has been a bit tougher than the previous season, so we know it’s more complicated to fight to finish in the top ten, but it’s not impossible. We will be aiming for the points that we need to get ahead of Haas.
“We know the weather can play a big part at this race and currently rain is forecast for Saturday and Sunday, so we will have to be ready to take our chances. The track is bumpy, but we found in Austin and Baku that it is not particularly difficult to deal with in these new cars and it didn’t worry me too much in the simulator.
“However, physically, it is tough, being an anti-clockwise track as well as the fact that none of the straights are actually straight! It’s another Sprint weekend and that’s something that hasn’t gone very well for us up until now, but we will deal with it, do our best and the extra race might mean an additional chance to go and chase the points we need in our championship fight , which is no bad thing.”
“I can be on the place from the first laps” – Yuki Tsunoda
On the other side of the garage, Yuki Tsunoda enters the weekend also feeling “positive” despite being forced to retire at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez two weeks ago, after being hit by Daniel Ricciardo.
Tsunoda is in a “good frame of mind” despite the incident and would hail the weekend in Mexico City upto that point as is “best race so far”.
“I will be racing in Brazil in a good frame of mind after Mexico, even though I retired from the race, as overall it was a positive weekend. I had to adapt quickly to the track, as Liam (Lawson) drove my car in FP1. From FP2 onwards I built up my pace and adapted quickly enough to be prepared for Qualifying, even if I couldn’t make it to Q3. In the race, up until the collision, I would say it was my best race so far in terms of tire management. It’s just a shame how it ended.”
Going into this weekend which is the final Sprint weekend of the season, Tsunoda is targeting a Qualifying Three appearance, something which has been rare this campaign. Given that it is a sprint weekend, though, does mean that there are perhaps some more opportunities on the table for the Japanese driver, who’ll be hoping to help the team overhaul the one point deficit to the Hass F1 Team.
Tsunoda is intrigued how “aggressive” the bumps will be this weekend following time in the simulator, where he predicts braking “to be difficult”.
“Last year was my first time at Interlagos and it was a busy weekend, as I had never driven the track and only had one free practice on Friday as it was a Sprint event, same as this year. However, I think I managed to understand the circuit quite quickly and this year it will be more straightforward, as I know what to expect and I’ve recently driven it again on the simulator. So, I am confident I can be on the pace right from the first laps and have a good weekend, with the usual targets of Q3 and points.
“One thing that I felt even on the simulator is that the track is very bumpy, and it will be interesting to see just how aggressive the bumps are, as that will make things tricky, especially in the braking zones. I expect it to be difficult in that respect, but otherwise, all good! It’s a left-handed track and I remember last year, I found it quite demanding physically, especially on the neck. It’s definitely one of the toughest races of the season from that point of view, but I am fit enough to deal with it.”