Yuki Tsunoda says this weekend in Abu Dhabi has seen him be more confident in the car across the whole of his rookie season, and he will start the final race of the season from eighth on the grid.
The Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda had experience in a Formula 1 car at the Yas Marina Circuit, albeit around its previous layout, after participating in the young driver test with the team in 2020, and he has been on the pace all weekend long.
Tsunoda had one lap time wiped off for exceeding track limits during Q3, but he returned to the track to put his AT-02 onto the fourth row of the grid, and he is looking to end the year on a high by scoring a good amount on points on Sunday.
“It’s been a good weekend so far but I’m of course a little frustrated today, it’s such a shame about the track limits in Q3 as I think it was a good lap especially without a tow,” said Tsunoda. “My confidence has really returned this weekend and it shows on track, it’s the most confident I’ve felt in the car since the first race in Bahrain, so that’s really positive.
“I’m really pleased with my Q2 lap and it means I’ll be starting the race on the Mediums, which is a really strong position to be in. It’s definitely a good way to finish the season, with a strong Qualifying, and I just have to put it altogether when it counts tomorrow.”
“We were just too slow for Q3 today” – Pierre Gasly
Whereas Tsunoda was fighting inside the top ten, team-mate Pierre Gasly saw his run of top ten starts end as he was unable to make it into Q3, with the Frenchman set to start twelfth on Sunday.
Gasly has been one of the stars in Qualifying throughout 2021 but was disappointed to miss out on the top ten in Abu Dhabi, with the twenty-five-year-old admitting he did not have the pace to get into Q3, with numerous changes to his car across the weekend not benefitting him enough to progress.
“We were just too slow for Q3 today,” said Gasly. “Since the start of the weekend we’ve struggled, I’ve been losing a lot compared to Yuki and we’ve just not managed to find a solution to this problem.
“The whole season we’ve been incredible in Qualifying, so we need to go away and look at the data to better understand what’s happened today and try to fix it for tomorrow.
“I will get to choose my starting tyre, which is for sure a positive, and we’ll see what we can do to make our way forward.”