Tsunoda “very happy with my performance” following P7 in F1 Australian GP

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool
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Yuki Tsunoda’s outstanding start to the 2024 Formula One season continued at the Australian Grand Prix as the Japanese driver finished P8 at Albert Park. He was finally rewarded with points following a couple of tricky races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The 23-year-old made Q3 for a second consecutive race as he qualified ahead of both Aston Martins and Lewis Hamilton to start P8. Although he lost out to Stroll at the start, to an undercut from Hamilton and a fortunately timed VSC for Alonso, he finished a place above where he started.

Hamilton and Verstappen’s retirements, Russell’s crash and Alonso’s post-race penalty saw him bag 6 massive points for RB F1 with a P7, putting them 6th in the Constructors’ Championship. He finished best of the rest behind the top teams in Australia, too.

Speaking after the race, Tsunoda was delighted to finally have a strong and clean race, and he was able to utilise the pace of the VCARB 01 in clear air.

“Yeah, I would say, yeah, very, very happy with my performance. I think this particular this week, we’re very consistent.

“Also the qualifying last three races, pretty good as well. I needed a bit of a good race, clean race to prove that I can also have a good strong race, not just the qualifying.

“And I think this is a good race. This is a race that I’m able to prove [it], and I just keep doing what I’m doing and hopefully also I can score points in Suzuka as well.”

A critical moment came on lap 41 as a massive send on his good friend Pierre Gasly into turn 11 allowed him to get back into fresh air. At that point, Nico Hülkenberg was right behind him for a net position as well.

But he ultimately pulled away and held position, despite Haas’ strong race pace. The Japanese also kept Stroll honest throughout Sunday’s race.

“In the end, the race wasn’t easy. A couple of teams picked up the pace quite a lot, but we were able to maximise performance and the opportunity, so I’m very happy. The team did a fantastic job.”

Named AlphaTauri last year, the Faenza-based squad struggled massively in the first half of the season as they regularly struggled to get out of Q1 in a car that was not competitive. However, this season has seen them consistently perform well to date, both at rear-limited and front-limited circuits, temporary or permanent.

Tsunoda says it’s important for the team to focus on themselves and extracting every last bit out of their package as the race for P6 in the Constructors’ Championship is sure to be tight all the way to Abu Dhabi.

“I’m feeling pretty good confidence because the the car is performing consistently since Bahrain. We were kind of lacking performance last year and some of the tracks were kind of disaster. But so far this season, we didn’t have it.

“We’re just consistent, performing well. So I’m sure we can perform well in Suzuka and other tracks as well.

“It’s just a matter of [focusing on] ourselves. It depends on ourselves and [in] such a tight midfield, anything can happen. Any mistakes will change 5 positions easily.

“So, yeah, just focus [on] ourselves and squeeze [every] millisecond from the car.”

Tsunoda expanded on just how much progress they have made since the beginning of last year.

In the second half of 2023, AlphaTauri brought a series of updates that allowed them to move up to P8 in the Constructors’ Championship after spending most of the campaign in last, falling 3 points short in their pursuit of Williams.

The Japanese driver explained how he was able to use a higher gear in a couple of corners around Albert Park, such are the downforce gains RB F1 has made. His best qualifying time on Saturday was 1.2s quicker versus his 2023 benchmark.

“It’s just actually very impressive how our car is performing a lot differently compared to last year.

“Consistently, in a couple of corners, we are using a higher gear compared to last year’s car.

“We knew that last year’s off-season especially, we struggled a lot, so I think the team has done a significant job.

“I think the massive, massive work to improve ourselves, improve our car, the amount of upgrades we brought second half [of last season] was like almost every race, it’s definitely hard work that has paid off.”