Out of the points, but by a whisker. Explained this way, it might seem easy to label the start of the 2023 season of AlphaTauri in a less worrying way than reality showed over the past weekend.
Yuki Tsunoda fought with Alexander Albon’s Williams in the last part of the Bahrain Grand Prix to seize the last available point, the one up for grabs from tenth place. The result is that the Thai had the upper hand, exploiting a top speed on the straights of the FW45 that made the difference.
Williams and AlphaTauri, being two different single-seaters, also have different characteristics. It is normal that one of the two may have a greater propensity to unleash its weapons on the straight, while the other to enhance its own in the corners.
However, what seems to be wrong is the difference between the two cars right on the straights. Albon was able to defend himself from Tsunoda for a top speed much higher than that of the AlphaTauri.
At the end of the race, the Japanese explicitly spoke of a difference of about 12 km/h between the two cars, which is enormous. And if the open DRS mitigates the problem only partially, when it is closed the problems multiply.
The AT04, according to Tsunoda, is overwhelmed by drag. But that’s not the only problem that arose in the first race weekend of 2023.
“Right now we’re only 12km/h slower than the Williams. So that’s quite a lot. Without DRS we have too much drag, and at the same time we don’t have much grip to make up for this drag. So, as I said, we need to grip. Either grip or less aerodynamic drag”.
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04
Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images
“Well, we were close, but the thing is, my advantage over him and his advantage over me are completely opposite: I gain in the corners, but he gains much more in the straight. So that made me even frustrated, because every time I approached the last corner, he could just break away, even with the DRS open I had the same speed deficit. So…”.
Another factor that prevented the AlphaTauri from immediately scoring the points was the bad start of the Japanese. All things considered, the race pace was not bad, but not enough to reach the standards that the team has set for itself. The AT04 not only has drag, but also has less grip than it needs, despite decent cornering behavior. This is why Tsunoda didn’t hide and called for updates as soon as possible.
“In the end, it was very close to scoring the points. I think the start was decisive, I lost a couple of positions on the first lap, and at the same time the pace was really difficult to maintain, a kind of good pace. but not enough”.
“We’re a long way off. We’re still a long way off, I think, from the pace we’d like to have, as soon as I get behind the cars they slide and overheat the tyres, so yes, we need more grip in general. We hope to be able to develop over the course of the season, but we need updates as soon as possible, otherwise we will continue like this throughout the year”.
“I can’t say at the moment when these updates will arrive, but it’s just that we need them as soon as possible, absolutely. I know when they will arrive, but I don’t want to say,” concluded the Japanese.
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