Yuki Tsunoda admitted he did not expect to score a top ten finish during last Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, but the Japanese racer was pleased to take tenth place to score Scuderia AlphaTauri’s first point of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season.
Tsunoda had finished eleventh in both of the opening races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and started in that position for the final lap tour to the chequered flag following the third of three red flags during the race at Albert Park.
Tsunoda had been running fifth after the crazy lap fifty-seven restart, but with the positions being reset to how they were prior to the red flag, he was relegated back to eleventh on the road.
However, a five-second time penalty for Scuderia Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz Jr. promoted him up to tenth, and although he did not believe AlphaTauri had the kind of pace to score points, they have to be happy to secure their first top ten finish of the season at the third time of asking.
“I have mixed feelings about today,” admitted Tsunoda. “We scored our first point of the season which is good, but to be honest, given our pace I didn’t expect to score any today.
“Considering how much we were struggling before the red flag, with warming up and getting the hard compound tyres in the optimum window, we should take this result and be happy with P10 as we maximised our performance.
“It’s a shame we lost P5 because, going into Turn 1, I managed to overtake several cars. On the positive side we scored a point, so we will continue to work hard to score more in the coming races.”
“Everyone who started on the mediums got a free pitstop” – Nyck de Vries
Team-mate Nyck de Vries was a casualty of the final standing restart when he was punted off the track by Williams Racing’s Logan Sargeant, but the earlier red flag for Alexander Albon’s crash had already compromised the Dutchman’s race.
Having started on the hard compound tyre, de Vries was hoping to take advantage of fresher, softer tyres for his final stint only for the red flags to fly when Albon crashed, leaving his rivals with a free pit stop.
De Vries remains one of only two drivers yet to score points in 2023, but he hopes the team can continue to work hard to turn around their fortunes ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix at the end of the month.
“Sadly, the racing incident with Logan meant the end of the race for us,” said de Vries. “We were struggling very much out there today but we did well at the beginning on the hard compound.
“Unfortunately, when the red flag came out, everyone who started on the mediums got a free pitstop to switch to the hard. I also damaged the front wing during the race, so I ended up with understeer and graining on the tyres.
“The midfield is still very tight, so we will continue to work and push, to be able to move up the ladder.”