Albon coaching Tsunoda through Turkish GP weekend

Date published: October 9 2021 - Henry Valantine

Yuki Tsunoda walks through the paddock. Istanbul October 2021.

There had been talk of Yuki Tsunoda having a driver coach in Turkey this weekend, and Alex Albon has been unveiled as the man for the job.

Tsunoda made it through to Q3 in what was a rare appearance in the final part of qualifying for him this season and while he still lapped around a second behind team-mate Pierre Gasly, Tsunoda has been receiving advice from the Red Bull reserve driver over the course of the weekend.

Ted Kravitz revealed the news on Ted’s Qualifying Notebook on Sky Sports F1 after the session on Saturday, and Tsunoda himself was pleased with his improved performance in qualifying – but felt he could have extracted more from his AlphaTauri.

“A good day for the team,” he said to Formula1.com. “The build-up was good. To be honest, I was expecting [to be] higher in qualifying with my free practice pace.

“I’m not truly happy but it’s positive I went to Q3. It’s better to have a top-10 start.”

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On the other side of the garage, Gasly continued his fantastic qualifying form and after putting himself P5 initially, Lewis Hamilton’s grid penalty will see him move up to the second row to start alongside Charles Leclerc on Sunday.

Considering the relatively poor performance from the AlphaTauri driver in practice on Friday, given the trouble he had setting up his car to start with, it is perhaps unsurprising the Frenchman was happy and relieved with yet another solid afternoon’s work in Istanbul.

“I must say I’m really pleased because yesterday it was hard,” he said. “We had so much understeer in the car. I didn’t like the balance so I asked for quite a lot of changes.

“In the end, the team gave me a very competitive car for today. I’ve enjoyed so much this morning and this afternoon – much better balance, [it] felt like the car was alive.

“Qualifying fifth is still one of our best Saturdays. It was very close with Charles and also Max ahead not very far. So a lot of positives to take and exciting for the race tomorrow.

“I think the team did a very good job. Yesterday we were not in our best shape, but all the changes overnight clearly made the car a lot faster, to be able to fight with Ferrari in qualifying.”