Tsunoda’s Hamilton defence came at a price

Henry Valantine
Yuki Tsunoda defends against Lewis Hamilton. Turkey October 2021.

Yuki Tsunoda holds a charging Lewis Hamilton behind him. Turkey October 2021.

Yuki Tsunoda defended well against Lewis Hamilton in the early stages in Turkey, but he admitted it “killed our tyres” in the race.

The AlphaTauri man kept the charging World Champion behind him in the opening laps at Istanbul Park, as the Mercedes driver tried to make his way through the field after starting P11.

It took Hamilton until the eighth lap to finally get past Tsunoda, by sending his car fully around the outside at Turn 3 in an audacious move, before progressing further.

Tsunoda put in an improved performance to make it through to Q3 on Saturday, and despite putting in his best qualifying performance for a long while, he admitted he still wasn’t fully happy with how he drove.

In the race, however, he was running comfortably within the points until midway through proceedings, when a spin saw him plummet down and out of the top 10, and he would eventually come home in P14 – but he enjoyed his battle with Hamilton, at a cost.

“Yeah, I killed the tyres quite early on with that battle,” Tsunoda told Sky Sports. “It was really hard to keep up the pace after that.

“[Then] I just had a spin and after that there wasn’t any pace for that. It’s definitely a learning, this is good, but I have to improve myself.”

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Franz Tost was complimentary towards Tsunoda following an improved showing, despite the spin which would eventually drop him out of the points.

The Japanese driver had Red Bull reserve Alex Albon coaching him through the course of the weekend, and team principal Tost felt his rookie driver put in an improved performance overall through the Turkish Grand Prix weekend as a whole.


“Yuki also had a good start today and spent quite a few laps in eighth position, managing to keep Hamilton behind for a long time, showing a great performance,” said Tost.

“Later on, he unfortunately spun and went back to 14th position. It was an enormous learning process for him, as he had not driven in the wet that many times, so he now understands more about how the intermediates work and he is more familiar with the car in these conditions.

“Generally speaking, the team showed a good performance this weekend and we’ve managed to score more points for our battle for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship. We’re now looking forward to heading to the United States.”


Winners and losers from the Turkish Grand Prix

Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen will be pleased with their races, but even after rising through the field, Lewis Hamilton was one of the big losers in the Turkish Grand Prix.