Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

AlphaTauri drivers back team’s strategy to use harder tyres in Q2

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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AlphaTauri will not be deterred from using harder tyres in Q2 despite Yuki Tsunoda failing to qualify in the top 10 on the medium compound in Bahrain.

Drivers who qualify in the top 10 have to start grands prix on the tyres they set their fastest Q2 lap on. Usually the preferred compound for a high fuel load at the start of a race is a harder compound than the one that would be fastest for qualifying.

AlphaTauri therefore put both of their drivers on the medium compound tyre in Q2 in Bahrain in the hope of gaining a strategic advantage. However only Pierre Gasly made it through to the final stage of qualifying.

Mercedes and Red Bull joined AlphaTauri in opting for the medium compound tyre. Out of the six cars, only Red Bull’s Sergio Perez and AlphaTauri’s Formula 1 debutant Tsunoda failed to make it to Q3.

Nonetheless Gasly and Tsunoda supported the team’s decision to persist with their aggressive qualifying strategy, saying their car is quick enough to make it work.

“Overall, in terms of performance and speed, it is very encouraging for the rest of the season, starting with Imola this weekend,” Gasly said of his 2021 start, having qualified fifth in Bahrain. He started fourth in the 2020 Emilia-Romagna GP.

“From what we saw in Bahrain, it seems we have a package that will allow us to fight for the big points and there is no reason for that not to be the case for the coming races.”

“One example of the team’s confidence was the decision to tackle Q2 at Sakhir on the medium tyre as apart from us, there was only the two Mercedes and Max Verstappen who did it. It was a risk, but it proves our belief in our car and our performance level. Now I hope we will be able to do that again at other circuits.”

Gasly added that the team is “clearly on the pace” right now. While Tsunoda only qualified 13th on the same strategy, he was also encouraged by the AlphaTauri-Honda AT02’s performance and praised the team for giving him the medium tyre in Q2 on his F1 debut.

“In our qualifying in Bahrain, I have no regrets about our strategy, because being committed to trying to get through to Q3 on the medium tyre was a good experience and for the team it was a new challenge to try and use that tyre,” Tsunoda said.

“I learned a lot from that, even if I had expected I could have been higher up the grid with the potential to be top five or top six.”

The same soft, medium and hard compounds will be used at Imola. Tsunoda has racked up test mileage at the track which he says will make it “so I can work in a similar way to what I did in Bahrain” given “I already have confidence in the car in Imola”.

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Author information

Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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4 comments on “AlphaTauri drivers back team’s strategy to use harder tyres in Q2”

  1. It may be better on some tracks to either qualify outside the top 10 to get tyres of choice or within on the medium compound, rather than inside the top 10 on softs.

    1. Indeed @aapje. I really see no good reason why this strategy would be the best option everywhere. Some tracks the difference is just too big. And at some tracks degradation isn’t really that big of an issue. There are also tracks where softs off the line can make a huge difference. Etc, etc.

      1. @bascb

        At Monaco, where track position is king, you’d prefer to be 10th on bare rims, rather than 11th with tyres of choice.

        OK, not really, but close.

        1. Yeah, that’s probably the main/only outlier @aapje (though even at Monaco, in the midfield the risk of a bad start due to low grip on those bare rims and being swamped might still favor being outside of the top 10 on a fresh set).

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