For AlphaTauri, the first grand prix of the 2022 Formula 1 season was bittersweet. Yuki Tsunoda, thanks to the eighth place finish at Sakhir, made a weekend less bitter which, until a few laps before the end of hostilities, seemed to be a nightmare.
While he was comfortably in the Top 10, Pierre Gasly was forced to stop his AT03 right at the point where, in 2020, the terrible fire occurred from which Romain Grosjean came out incredibly unharmed, if not with a few burns on the back of his hands.
Flames came out of the Faenza single-seater number 10 which the marshals extinguished with difficulty. A hazy point due to a suspected battery failure, which didn’t just lead to problems with the damaged component.
Many other components of the rear of the Frenchman’s AT03 were also damaged. Even the team could decide to replace the chassis in view of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix scheduled for this weekend in Jeddah.
Still, the worst aspect is related to the state of the battery. The team could be forced to throw away one of the two Honda energy accumulators allocated for the season after just one weekend of racing. This could lead Gasly to have a penalty over the course of the season because he won’t be able to complete the year with only one unit left.
The health of the other components of the Honda power unit will also need to be assessed, as they may not have remained unharmed. “I didn’t get any signals before I retired. And that’s very strange,” Pierre told Motorsport.com.
“I’m not too sure what happened. I had just come out of the curve and the car stopped. At that point I parked it and I noticed the barbecue in the rear …”.
“We were super confident after testing, because we didn’t have a single problem. This shows that in this sport you always have to keep your feet firmly on the ground. You can never be too sure of anything. Let’s just hope the engine has right. It’s just a pity to have lost all these points. “
Jody Egginton, technical director of AlphaTauri, confirmed the fact that the team had no signals before Gasly was forced to retire.
“It was an instantaneous failure, a total loss of power from an electrical point of view. At the moment the problem seems to be related to the battery, but we don’t know exactly. We are still investigating. We first need to understand where the failure occurred. But the scenario is that we will certainly have to change an element of the power unit already “.
“One minute before the car was running, then it went out. A total failure. We immediately lost power, the car stopped and we saw the fire. The source of the fire could be very hot components that are not been cooled properly. We took a look, there is a lot of superficial damage to the car. “
Egginton then tried to take stock of the components that will be changed on Gasly’s AT03 starting from Jeddah, home of the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. “We are still evaluating the problems, but at the very least the rear suspension will be new. There will be a lot of new wiring. We will evaluate the battery, but also the heat engine, because a lot of foam has been fired at the rear by the fire extinguishers. In the worst case we will have to. change an element of the power unit and the chassis “.
“Everything connected to the power unit or gear has overheated. The fire was in that area and they shot foam all over the place. So we could potentially change almost all the pieces and send them back to the factory for a full check,” Egginton concluded.