Tsunoda made a positive impression on his first grand prix weekend. But you get a strong sense from him that ninth place in a car as competitive as the AlphaTauri simply isn’t good enough for him.
Given his underlying speed, that capacity to learn should allow Tsunoda to sharpen his skills rapidly in what should prove to be a strong rookie campaign.
On his Formula 1 debut for Scuderia AlphaTauri, Japan’s Yuki Tsunoda flew past midfield rivals Alpine F1 Team and Aston Martin Racing to take home a commendable ninth place, a result which inscribed him into the good books of team principal Franz Tost.
Tsunoda started the race thirteenth after a solid Qualifying, but his true might came to fruition during Sunday’s fifty-six lap tour of the Bahrain International Circuit. He completed dazzling overtakes, some on the likes of legendary champions such as Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, and mastered the art of tyre management to bring home two points by finishing ninth.
By attaining the points-paying position, Tsunoda has ended Japan’s F1 points drought which had stood for eight years prior to the fulfilment and he has also emerged as the top dog at AlphaTauri after team-mate Pierre Gasly picked up race-ending damage early on. It’s a meritorious result that has no doubt given Gasly a glimpse of the talent he’ll be scrapping away with all season.
Speaking post-race, Franz Tost acknowledged the admirable job rookie Tsunoda accomplished in his first ever race in Formula 1. He said the ‘fantastic’ performance displayed the rookie’s ‘competitive pace’, even after a less than ideal start.
“At the start , Yuki was passed by a few other drivers” Said Tost.
“Behind Ocon he then had to brake quite hard, causing a flat-spot on the front right tyre which meant he started feeling some vibrations. He showed a lot of good overtaking maneuverers – I believe he was the car that completed the most overtakes – and his lap times were also very competitive, with the medium tyre as well as with the hard compound.“
“Yuki had his first race in F1 and I must say he really did a fantastic job. We told him his aim was to come back from the first lap with a healthy car to be able to run his race, and that’s exactly what he achieved. “
Tost also praised engine supplier Honda’s work on creating a highly competitive power unit which permitted the team to make huge strides after the 2020 season. AlphaTauri are now measured to be alongside the upper-midfield runners as opposed to their previous role as a junior team- commonly seen at the rear of the field.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone at Honda for putting in so much work over the winter months to provide us with such a competitive PU, essential to our performance.“
“He deserved ninth position and it was really nice to see how he fought against Kimi, Lance and others – I think we can look forward to the season ahead with him. He is the first Japanese driver to score points in the debut race, and it’s great he achieved this result with us.“
Tost concluded by stating that the team’s visibly ‘strong package’ makes them ‘look forward to Imola‘, where they will be hoping to finish with both cars in the points. Tsunoda has a breadth of experience driving around the historic track, where he completed a plethora of filming and test days in the run up to the 2021 championship.
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