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AlphaTauri ‘on the back foot’ in practice before the Bahrain Grand Prix

A tough first two practice sessions for AlphaTauri ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix

Ahead of Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix 2023 Photo by Ayman Yaqoob/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The first race of the 2023 Formula 1 season is just days away. But for AlphaTauri, it might be time to head back to the drawing board.

Drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries struggled to stay competitive with the field over the first two practice sessions. Tsunoda’s best lap in the early session placed him 13th, while de Vries settled for 16th.

Things did not improve in the evening session, as Tsunoda found himself 18th, just ahead of his rookie teammate, who placed 19th.

In all, the team concedes that they have a lot of work to do before the Bahrain Grand Prix.

“Today was not the easiest day. The performance itself doesn’t look good compared to our competitors so far,” said Tsunoda after the practice sessions in a statement provided to the media, including SB Nation. “Obviously, we don’t know what programmes they ran, but on our side, there are limitations that we have identified.”

His teammate shared that sentiment.

“We found ourselves a little on the back foot, but I’m confident that if we stick together and continue improving on the areas we believe we need to find performance in, we can make a step forward,” said de Vries after the two practice sessions.

AlphaTauri’s Chief Race Engineer Jonathan Eddolls was rather blunt in his assessment of their day. “The first session of the day is significantly hotter than the second session, and this tends to exaggerate any balance issues, so during FP1, we faced ‘a bit of everything’,” said Eddolls at the end of the day. “We made several changes for FP2 which helped, and so too did the lower track temperature. The drivers still didn’t have the perfect balance, but it wasn’t too far away from the target. That said, the lap times were not competitive, so we have a significant amount of work ahead of us to understand why we seem to have taken a step back compared to the test.”

Despite the struggles, Tsunoda remains optimistic. “There is still one more practice session tomorrow and I’m feeling optimistic. We’ve definitely made a step forward compared to last year, so I’m confident we can continue moving in the right direction. It seems our long-run pace is better than our short-run one, which is maybe good for Bahrain, but there is performance missing. We’ll shift our focus now to qualifying, to improve as much as possible for tomorrow.”

The final practice schedule is set for Saturday in Bahrain, ahead of qualifying.