AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly believes his team is in a stronger position compared to the same time last year and says “there are good reasons to be excited” for the 2021 Formula 1 season. 

The Frenchman completed the most amount of laps of any driver during a solid pre-season test in Bahrain, with Gasly lapping the Sakhir circuit a total of 237 times in the team’s updated AT02 challenger which proved to be both reliable and fast.  

After claiming a shock win at last year’s Italian Grand Prix and helping AlphaTauri take seventh place in the 2020 constructors’ championship with its biggest-ever points haul, Gasly hopes the Faenza squad can justify the increased excitement around it when teams reveal their true pace at this weekend’s season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. 

“We have a good package,” he explained. “But I don't want to draw any quick conclusions because things will be very different [during the race weekend]. At the moment we are just looking at ourselves.

“We’re trying to work on the areas that we have to work on, because this car, even if it seems to be quite good, there are still areas that we need to improve. 

“But I think there are good reasons to be excited, and I hope that we’ll be able to put in some strong performances early on in the season, because it’s going to be important.

“To be honest, after three days, it’s a lot better than where we were at the same time in Barcelona, after the same amount of time,” he continued. 

“I’m really happy; I think we know which opponents are going to be very fast as well, we already have some ideas… But I really hope we can be in the fight, and especially for some good points.”

Gasly and new AlphaTauri teammate Yuki Tsunoda will also be boosted by an all-new Honda power unit for the upcoming campaign after the Japanese manufacturer fast-tracked the development of its planned 2022 engine before it bows out of F1 at the end of the year.

“So far, we’re really happy [with the engine],” Gasly added. “It’s a step forward compared to last year. Reliability has been perfect all three days so far, so really positive on this side.

“But we saw Mercedes, they have a very strong engine. They showed it with McLaren and Williams, and you can see that they have a lot of potential. 

“I don’t want to get too excited before we get to qualifying [in Bahrain] and then I think we’ll get the full picture.”