Brake issues for both Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly during qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix will make race day a challenging prospect for the AlphaTauri duo.
“I’m reasonably happy with today. We made a good step up from FP3 but were unfortunately held back by the brakes, I struggled a lot with them and had a big lock-up in Q1, then lost a lot of confidence in Q2. I think the balance of the car was looking good and we could have looked to get into Q3, so it’s a bit of a shame we weren’t able to. That aside, it’s been great to see all the fans here, it’s a special opportunity for me, as I’ve never experienced this level of fans in our team kit, wearing my caps and clapping so much at every corner – it’s been fantastic and given me a real boost. Now we must look to the race tomorrow, there’s a possibility of mixed conditions and we’re in a good position to hopefully make our way forward if the opportunity arises.”
“I’m disappointed with today. We replaced the front left brake disc ahead of Quali and then on the out lap we were behind a lot of cars, which meant we couldn’t get enough temperature into the brakes. Every time I touched them, I had front locking, which was really tricky, and meant our last attempt went to waste. Tomorrow will not be easy from where we start, but it might be raining. I hope it will be, because it would bring more excitement and more opportunities to make our way forward. Our car works well in the wet, so I think that these conditions would be best for us.”
Guillaume Dezoteux (Head of Vehicle Performance)
“The third free practice session was difficult. It was our first opportunity to setup the cars for a dry track and we struggled to find the correct balance, especially on Pierre’s side of the garage. It pushed us to take more risks than we would usually do, and we made several significant setup changes on both cars ahead of Qualifying. Unfortunately, we were hampered by brakes material issues that we need to understand and analyse in detail. Both drivers struggled a lot in Q1 with front wheel locking, and while Yuki did manage to perform a good lap, Pierre couldn’t and got knocked out. In Q2, Yuki managed to improve, and he extracted more from the car, but still the confidence in braking wasn’t there. Looking ahead to the race there are still opportunities, especially if the rain hits the track in the middle of the race, as some forecasts suggest. We will review the different scenarios tonight and prepare both cars in the best possible way.”