Tsunoda left feeling “frustrated” despite claiming points finish in Australia

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After been given somewhat of an ultimatum in the lead up to the 2023 Formula one season by team boss Franz Tost, Yuki Tsunoda was told he needs to start delivering points consistently for the team to ensure he retains a seat and also for any hope of replacing Sergio Perez at Red Bull Racing in the future.

But the AT04 has proven to be quite uncompetitive and Tost let his engineers know about it in no uncertain terms at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

After just missing out on points in the opening two races, the Japanese driver arrived in Melbourne equipped with a new floor which promised better low speed performance from the AT04. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to find out how well this would serve him in the race after damaging it following a massive spin in Free Practice.

He managed to qualify P12 (including outqualifying teammate de Vries), although the Japanese driver missed out on Q3 by nearly four tenths of a second as AlphaTauri looked well off the pace of most teams again.

Despite this, the 22-year-old found himself moving from P12 to P8 on the first restart. This is where his race started to deteriorate, hampered further by a higher degree of tyre wear than those around him and a car lacking fundamental pace.

Finishing in the points looked increasingly unlikely the longer the race went on, the car just not having the speed to advance further or even at times maintain position (despite his best efforts against Piastri in particular), finding himself as low as P14 for twenty laps at one point.

Nonetheless, during the chaos of the penultimate restart, Tsunoda found himself leapfrogging up the order and when the red flag was waved once more found himself in 5th position. However, following the decision to do a count-back he was pushed back to P11 at the end of the race, before the Sainz penalty promoted him to the final point scoring position and bagged AlphaTauri their maiden point for 2023.

Speaking to the media after the race Tsunoda had mixed feelings.

“I mean without the red flag I score points and P5 so.. the incidients happened behind myself after I passed Pierre (Gasly), so even without the incident I was having P5. I had a mega start after the red flag, it’s a real shame.

“I’m frustrated at ending up P10…still it is the first point scored of the season, so we should take that. Compared to where we started, we didn’t have the pace at all so it’s all good, we should take it.”

When asked what his feelings were while waiting to find out about the final classification, he declined to answer, instead replying:

I don’t know…the rule, maybe they have to change it? Whats the point in having the restart then?

He concluded the interview by saying “we need to improve the race pace anyway” in the knowledge that without the circumstances around him, and his superb driving on the penultimate restart, that ultimately the AT04 isn’t the package we were promised it would be at its launch.

Photo credits: Red Bull Content Pool