Tsunoda already reaping rewards from Italy move

Date published: June 16 2021 - Henry Valantine

Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri

Yuki Tsunoda says his move to Italy to work more closely with his AlphaTauri team has already paid dividends, after an improved showing in Azerbaijan.

The Japanese rookie made it through to Q3 for the first time in his Formula 1 career in Baku and brought his car home in P7, having drawn criticism from Helmut Marko for his misfortunes in Monaco previously.

Marko made the decision to move Tsunoda to Italy to be closer to his team’s Faenza base and the youngster says he is enjoying spending more time with his team and, of course, the food in Italy.

“Before Baku I had a couple of difficult race weekends, so the result there was a good feeling,” Tsunoda said ahead of the French Grand Prix.

“Compared to previous races, my preparation was much better than normal and right from FP1, I felt ready.

“The week before Baku I moved to Italy, spending most of the time in the factory, studying our approach to race week and looking at previous issues with the car.

“We decided to take a little bit of a different approach to the race week and have more conversations and that worked well.

“In qualifying I made Q3 for the first time and overall, I think we have established a new baseline for how to approach a race. The race result was okay, I’m quite happy, even if it was a shame I lost a place after the restart.

“Since Azerbaijan I have been back in Italy. The weather and the food are good, and I can spend more time in the factory talking to the engineers.

“To move to Italy was the right decision and something really positive for me, although it does mean I have to travel back to the UK for simulator sessions.”

Team principal Franz Tost detailed the intense schedule Tsunoda has been put through on a daily basis now he is closer to the team’s headquarters, and the Japanese driver hopes to show further improvements at the French Grand Prix this weekend.

Having had experience of racing round Le Castellet before, he feels he’ll be able to find the limit of the car much faster than in previous rounds.

“As for the next round, I have raced in Paul Ricard twice before in Formula 3, which means it is a different situation after Portugal, Monaco and Baku which were all completely new to me, and that will be a positive factor,” Tsunoda continued.

“Ricard will be different in a Formula 1 car and Sector 3 will be key to the lap, with tyre degradation maybe being an important factor.

“It’s quite a flat track and, unlike the last two races, there are no walls! There are very big run-off areas, so I don’t have to as cautious in my approach as I find the limit.

“Set-up wise it will also be very different to Azerbaijan where our car worked really well, as there are no low speed right-angle corners. It is a completely different track in every way. I am looking forward to it and hope I can finish in the points again.”

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