Formula 1

Yuki Tsunoda: “It’s great to finish the three days on a high”

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 12: Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda on track during Day One of F1 Testing at Bahrain International Circuit on March 12, 2021 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Joe Portlock/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202103120704 // Usage for editorial use only //

While many teams were stricken by reliability issues throughout the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship testing weekend, Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda enjoyed a plain-sailing three days in Bahrain and went on to complete a staggering 422 laps around the Bahrain International Circuit, the joint-most alongside Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN.

Although the weekend was a real positive for the team, Sunday showcased how strong AlphaTauri could be in the upcoming 2021 F1 season, especially for rookie driver Yuki Tsunoda. He went second fastest on the final day – nine-hundred of a second behind Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen – and recorded the team’s fastest time over the three days, a 1:29.053, nearly a second quicker than his teammate Pierre Gasly.

While he was excited to conclude testing in second place, Tsunoda isn’t getting too carried away with the result, stating he has learned so much ahead of his debut season in F1.

“Jumping out of the car in P2 today is a great feeling – of course you can’t get too ahead of yourself, as it’s only testing, but it’s great to finish the three days on a high. I’ve learnt so much over the last few days and collected crucial data for the team that we’ll now go back and analyse ahead of the first race,” Tsunoda said.

“I think for me it’s great that we’re returning here so soon for the start of the season as I’ve managed to complete a lot of running here now and understand the track well. We’ve had a few small teething problems but that’s exactly what you’d expect from testing – we’re here to work everything out so we have the best possible package available to us come race day. I’ll continue working hard over the next few weeks and I’m excited for it to start!”

Gasly also took part in the final day of testing for AlphaTauri, completing his session in the morning. The Frenchman went fourth fastest in the morning, not far behind their fellow Honda-powered engine team, as Sergio Pérez reassured not only Red Bull optimism, but Honda’s.

He completed over 237 laps throughout the three days, including the 74 laps in the final session that saw a mixture of race simulations and fast laps. Not only did the team gather plenty of data from his runs, Gasly was able to assemble a better understanding of the car and gain confidence, but acknowledges they’re still improvements to make ahead of the 2021 season opener in Bahrain.

“Now that the three days of testing are over, I can’t wait to start racing, we’ve managed to complete our full testing schedule and have a good understanding of everything. Preparing for the race, we know the car’s strengths and we know where we can still make some improvements. I feel confident in the car and I think we’re in a much better place than we were this time last year,” Gasly said. 

“I think we know where we’ll be fast, and we have understood how to work on the car further. I really hope we can be in the fight this season and get some good points. Honda have also done a great job with the Power Unit and so far, we’re really happy with it – it’s a strong step forward, compared to last year, and the reliability has been perfect all three days, which is really positive. I’m excited for us to get to qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix because I think that’s when we’ll really see what everyone can do.”

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