Formula 1

Yuki Tsunoda Hopeful Saudi Arabia Will ‘Suit Our Package’

3 Mins read
Credit: Peter Fox/ Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Yuki Tsunoda is feeling somewhat optimistic ahead of this weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with the Japanese driver expecting the Jeddah Corniche Circuit to suit Scuderia AlphaTauri‘s AT04 better than the Bahrain International Circuit.

Tsunoda enjoyed a solid start to the season in Bahrain, with the AlphaTauri driver having successfully navigated his way into Qualifying Two, before narrowly missing out on a point in eleventh. Whilst he just missed out on the points, Tsunoda believes the Faenza-based team took “a step forward”, but that they’re still lacking performance in the car.

“From the weekend in Bahrain, it’s clear that our performance is quite far away from where we wanted to be in the first race, especially as we are aiming to be at the front of the midfield. We still need to find a lot more performance from our car. We did make a step forward from Friday to Saturday, which meant I was able to get into Q2 which was good. In the end, we were not consistent enough with our pace to make it to Q3.

“Last year, we were fighting Williams for P9, P10 in the Constructors’. It means we have to focus on developing our car and for myself, I have to try and extract as much performance from the car as possible and I’d say I managed to do that in Bahrain on Sunday.

This weekend is expected to be much better for the Italians, with Tsunoda being “hopeful” that the result will be better than it was in Bahrain. Should that be the case come Sunday, then Tsunoda will likely score AlphaTauri’s first points of the season, something he’ll be targeting.

“I know where we are struggling but for this weekend in Saudi, I am more hopeful that we can be better than in Bahrain. I will be pushing myself to give the team as much useful feedback as possible and then we will see how it goes. I think the high-speed nature of the track in Saudi will suit our package better, so let’s wait and see.

“Our reliability with this year’s car has been good so far. During testing and the first race, we had no major issues, so I’m confident that this year I will drive every session from Friday to Sunday, and I am looking forward to it.”

“We’re not exactly where we want to be” – Nyck de Vries

Credit: Peter Fox/ Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

For rookie Nyck de Vries it was a mediocre start to life in Formula 1, with the Dutchman having been eliminated in Qualifying One after a disappointing qualifying. The Dutchman started his debut for AlphaTauri in nineteenth, but successfully worked his way through the field to finish fourteenth.

Quickly reflecting on Bahrain, De Vries was happy to “finally really start” his F1 career, with the aim going forward being to get “into the race rhythm”.

“It felt great to finally really start our season and campaign together in Bahrain. It’s been a long lead up to that moment and ultimately, we are racers, we want to go out there and compete. I’m very happy that we have the first one out of the way and that we’re basically getting into the race rhythm.”

This weekend’s Saudi Arabian GP will likely be a very challenging one for De Vries, who has never raced at the circuit before. Whilst he’s experienced the circuit on the sim, he’s only ever watched the Saudi Arabian GP from the sidelines. Like his team-mate, though, De Vries is also convinced that the AT04 will run better in Jeddah, but that ultimately the team aren’t “exactly where we want to be”.

“I think there is no hiding that we’re not exactly where we want to be in terms of performance. There is still a lot of work to be done. We feel like we need to close the gap even more in low-speed corners and Bahrain has a lot of those so we hope that Saudi will suit our package a little bit better.

“Ultimately, the midfield is so extremely close and fighting for points is going to be a tough battle because you have at least four top teams in front which are already taking eight positions. It’s going to be a challenge, but we’ve just got to make sure we don’t leave anything unturned so that we can capitalise on potential opportunities.”

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