Pierre Gasly is very pleased with the adjustments to the format of the sprint weekends. The Frenchman explains that this gives the teams’ engineers and mechanics a little more time to change things on the car, which was not the case in 2023. His mechanics were regularly disappointed that they saw areas for improvement, but the rules did not allow them to tinker with the car. That should be a thing of the past by 2024.
Last year, teams were stuck with choices made after free training because the Parc Fermé rules came into effect on Friday evening, which meant that no further changes were allowed. An uncompetitive car could therefore not be improved over the weekend, and it also led to problems with excessive plank wear in the United States, where Charles Leclerc and Lewis Hamilton were disqualified after the race. In the new format, the sprint qualifying moves to Friday, and the main qualifying moves back to Saturday. This gives the teams time to make any changes to the set-up prior to the main qualifying.
“I think that’s great,” Gasly told Motorsport.com. “I think that was missing, absolutely,” the Frenchman continues. “Last year we had brilliant guys in the garage who were forbidden to change anything on our car on a Friday afternoon.” A team like Alpine would indeed benefit from adjusting some things. ‘And that’s what they get paid for, because they’re the best. It was a bit sad because they have a lot more to offer than just one or two clicks on the front flap and tire pressure,” says the Alpine driver. ‘F1 is the pinnacle of engineering, and I think it’s good that we still give them the opportunity to make these improvements throughout the weekend.’
‘Reaction time was extremely short’
Gasly confirms that his engineers were previously frustrated when they knew they could improve the car but the rules did not allow it. ‘You don’t have time to try anything, because you are already limited in one hour of training. So then it went from: try to do the work in the simulator,” the 28-year-old explains. ‘When you realize that you didn’t start the weekend with the best set-up, your reaction time was extremely short. So I think as a sport it is definitely the right change.”