Pierre Gasly (AT03-04, Car 10)
First Practice Session – Best lap: 1:31.498, pos. 5th, 27 laps
Second Practice Session – Best lap: 1:30.547, pos. 7th, 20 laps

“The track is really cool here, it’s different to what we’re used to with all the varying corners, but so far I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s pretty challenging to drive, as it’s really hot and there’s also a lot of sliding, but it’s fun. The real-life laps times are pretty close to what we were seeing on the sim, it also feels pretty similar to what we were expecting, so we’ve come into the event well prepared. I think looking at today’s sessions we’re sitting right on the edge of the top 10, so hopefully we’ll make it through to Q3 in Quali tomorrow. We’ll work hard tonight, as I’m still not fully happy with the car, and hopefully find some more performance ahead of tomorrow.”

Yuki Tsunoda (AT03-02, Car 22)
First Practice Session – Best lap: 1:34.043, pos. 18th, 27 laps
Second Practice Session – Best lap: 1:31.260, pos. 13th, 23 laps

“The track here is quite special, I really like it, especially Sector 2. I’ve never driven corners like turn 11 and 16 in a F1 car before and it’s super fun. We’re still learning lots about the circuit, it was more slippery out there than I was expecting and if you even go off the racing line with just one tyre you lose a huge amount of grip, as we saw with a few cars today. Currently, I’m struggling here a little bit compared to the last few circuits, but I just need to take it step by step and build up the pace. I’m still not fully happy with the balance of the car yet, but we’ll work hard tonight and look to put it all together tomorrow for Quali.”

Jonathan Eddolls (Chief Race Engineer)

“Coming to a brand-new circuit there’s always a lot of work to cover during the Friday sessions, so we came here with quite a comprehensive test plan to capture the data to prepare for Quali and the race. The new tarmac is quite standout relative to other circuits, due to the rough texture, so there was some learning to complete to understand how the tyres interact with it, especially at the high track temperatures in excess of 50°C – the hottest of the season so far. In FP1 the track evolution was high, as expected, and Yuki wasn’t able to set a clean lap on his Softs, but we knew there was more to come. Given the very long straights, all cars run a lower downforce level here, which made car handling in the corners more of a challenge than at the previous events. We made several changes to the car for FP2 and these improved the balance. Pierre was able to set a very good lap to end up in P7, whereas for Yuki he didn’t have a car that had the balance he wanted and needed for this track, so we will work hard on analysing the data from today and continue to improve it for tomorrow. Due to the Red Flag the high fuel runs were cut short, this means all teams will be lacking race tyre data so the learning will continue in the race!”