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Tsunoda surprised he was retained

NEWS STORY
10/09/2021

Yuki Tsunoda has admitted to being surprised that AlphaTauri retained him for a second season.

Qualifying 13th and finishing ninth on his F1 debut, having previously shown good pace in pre-season testing, it was widely thought that the Japanese driver might actually live up to the hype.

However, his season subsequently began to fall apart, and other than a strong weekend in Baku his season has been punctuated by crashes, most notably in qualifying at Imola and Paul Ricard which consequently meant he failed to progress into Q2.

Speaking to reporters at Monza, days after being confirmed for a second season with AlphaTauri, Tsunoda admitted surprise at being retained by the Red Bull owned team.

"From my side I was a bit surprised I'll be staying next year," he said. "So first of all, thanks for the team."

Asked why, he responded: "Because I just keep crashing and cost the team a lot of money.

"I was not on a good way to end up the first half of the season," he continued, "especially in Hungary when I went to the wall in FP1 and ruined a whole session, almost two sessions.

"You need a more consistent result and more driving, and also discipline in the sessions," he admitted. "I couldn't improve through the first half of the season, and that's why."

In the madness that was the Hungarian Grand Prix, the youngster finished 6th, however, on the 84 points that see the Faenza-based outfit 6th in the standings the rookie has only contributed 18.

"I didn't expect it to be that difficult in Formula One," he said, "because even in junior categories if I had a massive slap or went to the wall I never had this much losing confidence. So that's one main issue. That's why I'm building up and trying to have more consistent laps, and consistent sessions.

"I didn't know what was going to happen at the first race and I just fully sent it almost every session," he continued. "At that point, I felt very good, and I was feeling I was driving very well.

"I think from Imola, especially after qualifying, I lost maybe a little bit of confidence. I kept doing mistakes every time so I reset, building confidence.

"At the beginning of the season, expectations were too high. And that's why I think the first race went well. But after that it was just getting confusing each session and each race week, and that made it spiral."

Of course, having the (financial) backing of Honda has no doubt helped the team, and, more importantly, Helmut Marko, keep faith in the youngster.

Check out our Friday gallery from Monza, here.

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1. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 10/09/2021 22:53

"Something that does not help the drivers coming up from F2 to F1 is the lack of testing time away from a GP weekend.
They don't get a chance to fine tune their approach and iron out any difficulties.
If someone like Daniel Ricciardo is struggling in the first half of a season with a new car then spare a thought for the likes of Tsunoda.
I watched the young fella at Cromwell in TRS a couple of years ago and he was mega quick however a bit over the edge on a couple of occassions in practice. He was pushing way harder than the others.
In the junior categories you can do that, even crash and learn and push on.
F1 isn't like that.
Perhaps Red Bull have had a look at the data, assessed the situation, thought about how they can improve this guy and develop him. I actually never thought Red Bull would do something quite like that as they usually have so many young guys coming through they can afford to really churn through them.
Trouble with that approach is that the pressure in that top team is a lot to take on. There needs to be that driving experience / speed and the mental toughness too.
Hats of to Tsunoda for his candid views about his year so far. He's at least owned his mistakes and that bodes well for him learning and getting on with it."

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2. Posted by ChickenFarmerF1, 10/09/2021 17:22

"@kenji - Part of it too may be that they're running out of potential replacement drivers. People have noticed the trend there. If you're not the golden child, you're the red-headed step-child. So I think fewer drivers are willing to take the risk to their career by going there. Getting dropped by RBR/AT usually means the end of your F1 career, or at least a major downgrade in your stock price. The drivers that left on their own terms (Vettle, Ricciardo) have done reasonably well in the immediate aftermath, given the teams they chose at the time. But the ones dropped unceremoniously have faded to other categories. So they (AT) may have found that their options that were willing to take the risk on Red Bull management to replace Tsunoda were simply not any better than him. "

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3. Posted by kenji, 10/09/2021 12:03

"When one thinks of other drivers who faced the chop rather savagely it beggars belief that Tsunoda was kept on!! Obviously Honda money and influence have played a major part in this. That's wrong and he should've been sent back to F2 for a couple more seasons however knowing my propensity for picking winners he will now go on and clean up massive points in the second half!!!"

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