Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Yas Marina, 2021

Tsunoda made “long journey” to regain confidence for career-best finish

2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Yuki Tsunoda says he had a “long journey” from his difficult start to his rookie season to a career-best result last weekend.

The AlphaTauri driver took fourth place in Abu Dhabi after passing Valtteri Bottas after the restart.

Tsunoda credited his result was partly down to improving his getaway off the line, having qualified eighth. “The start was really good,” he said. “I had bad starts consistently, I lost positions on the first lap in the last three or four races and this was my key point today.

“I gained one car, one position on the first lap. After that the pace was quite good and quite okay in the end.”

He was among a fortunate group of drivers who pitted during the Safety Car period and were allowed to re-join the lead lap. “I managed to pass Bottas [who was] on the soft tyre, as well, that was good,” said Tsunoda.

He claimed rival Fernando Alonso overtook him outside the track limits at one point. “I think he completely passed off track,” Tsunoda explained, “so he should’ve given back the position immediately.

“But he didn’t, so I just had to overtake. But anyway, it was good fun to battle with that kind of legendary guy.”

Tsunoda ended his rookie season on a high having previously achieved a best finish of sixth at the Hungaroring. He began the year with a points-scoring finish on his debut but admitted his confidence took a knock when he crashed in qualifying at the next round.

“It was a long journey to improve my confidence from, especially, Imola,” he said. “I really struggled.

“But I’m feeling pretty good and feeling prepared for the next year to have this confidence.”

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2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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9 comments on “Tsunoda made “long journey” to regain confidence for career-best finish”

  1. His form came very late and his non-performance in the early season cost his team a place in the constructors’ championship. I’m thinking he has to hit the ground running next year.

  2. He was always on the lead lap. He didn’t get lapped at any point in the race.
    A good drive by him, nevertheless. His unseen pass on Bottas from quite far behind was excellent.

  3. I wouldn’t take anything away from his performance in the last race but I have a sneaky suspicion that RedBull retired Perez so that Alpha Tauri drivers can move a place up in the order to secure 5th in the World Constructors Championship. Never the less if he had finished 5th behind Perez still a superb drive never the less.

    1. Well pointed.

      I also thought they had a possibility of an engine failure and didn’t want to risk the yellow flags staying out longer.

    2. I would think it’s more likely they didn’t want Perez stopping out on track with an engine issue – causing the safety car to be extended by a lap while they cleared his car. So they just retired him rather than risk it.


      1. l
        l
        That one.

  4. I was mega-excited about Tsunoda but was left feeling a little underwhelmed. However, I still think he’s got some amazing potential. Like Brundle has said a few times, raw speed is natural talent, but experience comes with time.

    Tsunoda seems to have great raw pace, he was perhaps thrown into F1 a season too early but it’s been great training for him and he leaves the season as a better driver than when he started. With a year of F1 under him and with everyone hitting the reset switch to an extent with new regulations, I really hope to see some spicy drives from the guy. I see him as another great driver and not just more fodder for the Red Bull meat grinder.

    1. I felt the same way about Tsunoda at the start of the year. His Honda connections have enabled him to keep going next season, luckily for him. He has to get past his immaturity when it comes to laying blame when things go wrong, and learn to focus his feisty style. He has Gasly as a role model, who has been through the Red Bull wringer and out the other side, so there is still hope that he will learn. A month or two away from the circus might give him some useful perspective.

  5. Making a driver faster is almost impossible. Making him more consistent and aquire more experience is the way to go.
    Yuki is fast but raw. That seems to be addressed and the first results are nice. Let’s see next year.

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