Gasly: Tsunoda ‘didn’t expect to struggle that much’

Date published: January 3 2022 - Henry Valantine

Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda are interviewed. Silverstone July 2021.

Pierre Gasly believes the calibre of drivers in Formula 1’s midfield contributed to Yuki Tsunoda’s struggles in his rookie year, saying it was “not easy” for him to deal with.

Gasly roundly outperformed the young Japanese driver throughout 2021, earning more than treble the points tally of his AlphaTauri team-mate in a stand-out year for the Frenchman.

Tsunoda finished the season with his best result in Formula 1 by taking P5 in Abu Dhabi, but he only outqualified Gasly once all season and was often lagging behind on Sundays too.

Former Red Bull driver Alex Albon was drafted in to be Tsunoda’s unofficial mentor part-way through the season, while Gasly admitted it was tough to lend his team-mate a hand when he had his own work to get through.

“It’s difficult because it takes so much energy focusing on your own thing,” Gasly told reporters, quoted by GPFans.

AlphaTauri pair Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda are interviewed. Qatar November 2021.

“I think listening from what Yuki says, he learned quite a lot from looking at the data, seeing the way I work with the team, and just seeing my approach.”

But Gasly also thinks the depth in quality permeating through the grid also played a part in Tsunoda struggling to adjust to the top tier after performing well in Formula 2.

Former World Champions were spread throughout the midfield, with Sebastian Vettel toiling in an Aston Martin car which was only the seventh fastest on the grid, while Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen also spent much of the season on the outer reaches of the points.

As a result, Tsunoda spoke about his need to improve physically heading into the new season after admitting to being a “lazy b*stard” in the early part of the year – and his team-mate said it was a challenging time to enter the sport.

“I think he probably didn’t expect to struggle that much, from what he says, coming into Formula 1,” Gasly added. “The level in F1 at the moment in the midfield, it’s really hard.

 

“A four-time World Champion driving for Aston Martin (Vettel) with a double World Champion driving for Alpine [Alonso], very strong line-up at Ferrari, very strong line-up at McLaren, even Kimi, a champion at Alfa Romeo.

“The level is really high and probably higher than even the last couple of years. For sure, as a rookie coming in was not easy.”