AlphaTauri has revealed outside influences with both drivers led to the team being forced into early pit stops at the Qatar Grand Prix.
The Red Bull sister team would have been in dreamland as the cars lined up on the grid for the inaugural race at the Losail International Circuit.
Another very impressive performance by Pierre Gasly in qualifying was further boosted by the news that Max Verstappen had been hit with a five-place grid penalty for a yellow flag infringement.
That drop, plus a penalty to Valtteri Bottas for a separate yellow flag infringement, propelled Gasly up to the front row alongside pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton.
With Gasly’s team-mate Yuki Tsunoda also starting from a respectable position in P8, the signs looked good for AlphaTauri after also catching the eye during the practice sessions.
But P2 and P8 on the grid was converted into zero points. Gasly falling all the way out of the top 10 with a P11 finish and Tsunoda a couple of places back in P13.
It means they have lost crucial ground in the battle for P5 with nearest rivals Alpine in the Constructors’ Championship, but technical director Jody Egginton said unforeseen circumstances played a role on both sides of the AlphaTauri garage.
not our day unfortunately in Qatar pic.twitter.com/CpQdsUGXKl
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) November 21, 2021
“It has been a difficult one as both cars struggled with pace and tyre degradation,” Eggington said.
“Yuki’s first stint was compromised when a visor tear off became stuck on the rear wing. This caused a loss of load and balance, necessitating the first stop being brought forward so it could be removed, which dropped him further back than ideal.
“With Pierre we were struggling with balance, as he had high front left tyre wear, meaning he could not follow the cars ahead.
“So again, we were forced to bring the first stop forward and adapt the strategy to allow tyre wear to be managed. The net result of these issues impacted track positions and we did not have sufficient pace to recover on this occasion.
He continued: “All credit to Alpine, they really made the soft tyre work and in such a tight battle this has made the difference.
“Obviously, the entire team is disappointed to have lost ground in the battle for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, however there are still two races to go.
“Although challenging, our objectives remain unchanged and we will be pushing hard to score as many points as we can.”