While Gasly followed up a P6 finish in FP1 by ending the day third-quickest behind the Mercedes duo and just 0.252s down on Valtteri Bottas’ benchmark, Tsunoda endured a miserable pair of practice sessions at Sochi.

The 21-year-old Japanese rookie was only 16th in the morning and dropped to P18 in second practice as he ended up over two seconds slower than Gasly.

Tsunoda conceded he had no explanation for the large performance gap to his teammate and said he will need to “look more deeply” at the issues he faced.

“The balance is not too bad, just the general grip… or something like, I don’t know, we have to figure out the difference between my team-mate [and me],” he said.

“My team-mate is doing a really good job, he’s P3, top five, and on the other side I’m in P18 or something like that.

“Yeah, I mean, just have to look more deeply what’s the issues there. Yeah, currently, I’m quite confused.”

Gasly was in an understandably buoyant mood given the performance he was able to extract from his AlphaTauri car.

“I think we had a fantastic day with the sixth [best] time this morning and third time this afternoon,” the Frenchman said.

“In terms of performance, it seems to work well, so I’m really happy about it. Inside the car it is still not easy, not feeling 100% comfortable with the balance and [there’s] quite a few things to improve.”

And Gasly is eyeing an opportunity to land a big result for the team given that both Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc will be starting at the back on Sunday due to their respective engine penalties.

“We know Charles [Leclerc] is taking a penalty as well [as Max Verstappen], so there’s going to be some opportunities.

“At the moment we’re focusing on our package and the main focus for us is the two Alpines, they are fast as well, we saw Fernando [Alonso] and Esteban [Ocon] put in some fast laps.

“So I expect a tight battle with them as it’s important for us to start catching them in the championship.”