Pierre Gasly says AlphaTauri has "good reasons to be excited" ahead of its 2021 campaign, insisting the team exited pre-season testing in a better position than it was a year ago.
The Faenza-based squad's preparations unfolded free of any troubles in Bahrain, with maximum mileage and solid performance for the outfit's new AT02.
Gasly completed more laps than any other driver in testing while teammate Yuki Tsunoda clocked in with the second fastest time, just 0.093s adrift from Red Bull pace setter Max Verstappen.
Only race day will provide AlphaTauri with a true sense of its performance level relative to its rivals, but Gasly is confident the team has put together a strong package for 2021, albeit one that still requires improvement.
"We have a good package," said the 2020 Italian GP winner. "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."
Gasly reckons his team will kick into gear in Bahrain this weekend stronger than it was twelve months ago.
"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 added.
"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."
Like sister team Red Bull, AlphaTauri's chargers will be powered by a new power unit developed by Honda. However, Gasly says he has yet to judge the full measure of the engine's improvement.
"During the test, we didn’t push flat out very often, so it’s hard to get an accurate picture of the improvement on the PU side," he said.
"But I know what Honda has done and it was encouraging that we had zero bother on the PU over the three days, even though we did a huge number of laps.
"I don’t want to get too excited before we get to qualifying and then I think we’ll get the full picture."