Formula 1

Yuki Tsunoda: “We have to aim to score more points in the last three races of the year”

4 Mins read
Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images

Yuki Tsunoda admitted it was a nice surprise to score two points in last weekend’s United States Grand Prix rather than one after being promoted to ninth place following Fernando Alonso’s post-race penalty, but it was still disappointing to see Scuderia AlphaTauri lose ground to the Haas F1 Team in the Constructors’ Championship.

Haas scored an eighth-place finish thanks to Kevin Magnussen and now sit two points clear of AlphaTauri as the two teams battle it out over eighth place in the Teams’ standings with just three races of the season remaining.

Tsunoda says scoring points was good having started at the back of the field following a grid penalty, and it was also good that the team were able to be points contenders on Sunday having struggled for performance in Qualifying conditions.

“Even if it does not help for the championship’s fight with Haas, it was a nice surprise to get the extra point for ninth place in Austin, especially after starting down in nineteenth place on the grid because of the grid penalty,” said Tsunoda.

“It was quite a tough race physically, but also good fun in the car, with a few nice overtakes as well. Overall, last weekend we looked quite competitive in the midfield, even if Qualifying was the weak point over the three days.”

Tsunoda will miss the opening session as AlphaTauri fulfil their requirement to give young drivers two free practice appearances during the 2022 season by giving Liam Lawson a chance behind the wheel of the AT03, and he knows he will need to maximise his track time in the second session.

The Japanese racer enjoyed his first time in Mexico last year by qualifying inside the top ten, although a grid penalty for an engine change meant a back of the grid start, which meant he was in the wrong place at the wrong time as he was out on the first lap following a collision.

“The Mexican track I would say is quite unusual to drive, partly because of the high altitude of Mexico City,” he said.  “You run maximum downforce because of the thin air, but even so, it feels like you are driving with little downforce.

“I found that a little bit strange last year when I raced there for the first time, but at the same time I was able to adapt quite quickly and I remember I was happy about my performance, especially over one flying lap. I enjoyed Mexico, I liked the track especially the slow and tricky Sector 2 and I had fun with the car sliding around, which reminded me of karting!

“Getting it just right in the braking zones is very important. I’ll miss out on FP1, as Liam is jumping into my car for that session, so the second practice session will be super important to allow me to work on building up my confidence in terms of braking.

“Last year I qualified in the top ten, but had to start at the back because of an engine change and then my race ended with a collision on the first lap, which was a shame. We need to have a good clean weekend, as we have to aim to score more points in the last three races of the year.”

“I really want to finish on a high” – Pierre Gasly

Team-mate Pierre Gasly saw things go against him in the United States Grand Prix, but he remains positive that the results will come across his final three races with AlphaTauri before he moves to the BWT Alpine F1 Team in 2023.

Gasly was running inside the top ten but was penalised for failing to stay within ten lengths of the car in front during the second safety car period at COTA, and then was handed a subsequent ten second penalty after his team touched his car before they were allowed to as he took his first penalty!

The Frenchman enjoyed his last visit to Mexico, qualifying inside the top five and finishing fourth, and although he doesn’t expect the same kind of performance this year, he is bidding to return to the points on Sunday afternoon to help them beat Haas in the Constructors’ Championship.

“In Austin, we weren’t able to convert the clear potential in the car into points on Sunday, but there were some positives too: I had some good battles and was fighting for seventh place until the penalty, as our pace was very good,” said Gasly.  “There are still three races to the end, and I really want to finish on a high.

“I’ve often done well in Mexico. Last year I qualified fifth and then was fourth in the race. It’s a unique track because of the altitude, which makes for extreme conditions for the car, and I like driving here.

“It’s very low grip, complicated by the fact you have less downforce because of the altitude. There are plenty of low-speed corners which could suit us better than COTA.

“In general, these last few races of the year all take place on unusual circuits and in places that I like a lot. In Mexico City we’ll try and reproduce the performance level of last year. We know how to be quick here so hopefully we can do well and chase after those points that I missed out on in America.”

Pierre Gasly has just three race weekends of his AlphaTauri career to go before he moves to Alpine in 2023 – Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images
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Long time motorsport fanatic, covering Formula 1 and the occassional other series. Feel free to give him a follow on Twitter at @Paul11MSport.
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