Of all the success stories of the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, Yuki Tsunoda’s extraordinary ninth place finish was no doubt the most wholesome.
The Japanese driver battled his way from thirteenth place to take a stellar two points for Scuderia AlphaTauri on debut for the Italian outfit, muscling his way through the early carnage which saw fellow rookie Nikita Mazepin slam into the barriers and team-mate Pierre Gasly lose his front-wing.
On the way to his admirable finish, Tsunoda scrapped with the likes of decorated champions such as Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso in dazzling duels which truly showcased his sheer blistering pace and feisty race-craft.
“I had some strong overtakes during the race and, for me, overtaking Fernando was quite an emotional experience.” Said Yuki.
“He’s a Formula 1 superstar that I’ve grown up watching, so that was pretty exciting. I’m really proud of my performance and I’m looking forward to seeing how we do next time out.
“I think this race showed how great the performance of the car is. I have to say, I’m a bit disappointed still as I lost a few positions on the first lap – due to being too cautious – and had to work throughout the race to recover these.
“But all in all, I’ve learnt a lot here in Bahrain, which is really positive.” Tsunoda concluded.
After such a scintillating performance which saw the AlphaTauri driver narrowly miss out on being voted driver of the day, Tsunoda will certainly be raring to go for the next race at Imola- a circuit he has bucket loads of experience at from test and filming days- in just three weeks time.
Gasly says missing out on vital points is a ‘big shame’
But although one side of the AlphaTauri garage emerged pleased after a thrilling race under the lights in Sakhir, it wasn’t all smiles and rainbows for the Faenza-based outfit. Tsunoda’s race-winning team-mate Pierre Gasly endured a brutal DNF after qualifying a promising fifth.
The Frenchman- who won last year’s Italian Grand Prix– made contact with McLaren F1 Team’s Daniel Ricciardo, which dropped him to the back of the field after being forced to make a pitstop. Gasly went on to retire from the race and take home zero world championship points for both himself and his team- a result which he says is ‘very disappointing.’
“I’m obviously very disappointed right now because we’ve had a very strong weekend since we arrived. Starting from P5 I was hoping for some good points today, but my race was pretty much over after the contact with Daniel in lap one.
” I broke the front wing, I had floor damage and I was obviously very far behind after just one lap, so my race was almost finished from there. It’s a big shame because we’ve shown some good pace all weekend and we haven’t managed to get the rewards of that today, but I think there are still quite a lot of positives to take-away from this weekend and that’s what we’ll look at for Imola.”