Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

Tsunoda says passing Alonso in his first F1 race was an “emotional” moment

2021 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Yuki Tsunoda says passing Fernando Alonso during his F1 debut was an ’emotional’ moment after watching the two-time champion race at Fuji as a child.

The Japanese rookie – who hadn’t had his first birthday when Alonso made his grand prix debut in 2001 – passed the returning world champion into turn one mid-way through the race. Tsunoda went on to score points on his debut with ninth place.

Tsunoda said it reminded him of watching Alonso in action in the Japanese Grand Prix. “It was a little bit emotional,” he said.

“The last time I saw Alonso racing was 13 years ago – I was watching at Fuji Speedway when he was driving for McLaren and Renault. I’m really proud.

“I was really happy that I overtook him, of course it’s not the same car, but yeah, I was happy.”

Despite scoring points in his first race, Tsunoda said he is aware of areas in his driving where he can improve.

“I’m happy but also disappointed – especially with my first lap,” he explained.

“I lost too many positions on the first lap and then after that it also took some time to recover those positions. I’m happy to get a point for my first race and for the team. A positive thing was that I learnt a lot in this race, so I’ll just do better for Imola next time.”

Tsunoda was running in 10th place when the final lap began, but an aggressive pass on Lance Stroll into turn one saw him take ninth place at the chequered flag.

“It was really late launch,” Tsunoda explained. “But I decided that if I didn’t overtake him, I wouldn’t be able to sleep all night tonight!

“I really struggled the last two laps, especially in the dirty air from him. I made quite a lot of mistakes. But I’m really glad to have passed him on the last lap. ”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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10 comments on “Tsunoda says passing Alonso in his first F1 race was an “emotional” moment”

  1. It really is fun seeing Tsunoda in F1. Some really stunning speed, he seems to genuinly enjoy himself and I am looking forward to seeing him learn when to pounce and when to keep his cool to set that fast lap at the right time.

  2. I think we’re going to see quite a bit of Yuki towards the sharp end this year. He really impressed over the weekend. Definitely a fan!

  3. He’s been a great addition to the F1 grid.

      1. The smallest container holds the best perfume, it is known ;)

  4. A very promising driver.
    He was asked specifically about Alonso, that’s why he talked about him. He was initially talking about a number of the older drivers in general terms.

  5. The pass on Stroll was a monster, that if Ricciardo had done everyone would be raving about it. From what I saw in F2 we can expect a lot of moves like that from Tsunoda.

    1. Jockey Ewing
      29th March 2021, 2:44

      Against Vettel it was great as well, even if a mega DRS pass, he was incredibly far at the start of the main straight. While against Kimi, huh Kimi let him past at the end of thre race a bit comically quickly, just like “I let you go, just dont mess with me :)”. Of course tyres and other factors can be determining in these cases, but both were funny in a way. Go, Mr.Yuki go!

  6. He would have done even better if Alpha Tauri hadn’t given him Mediums for Q2. Of the 6 drivers given mediums for Q2, 2 didn’t qualify for Q3 (Perez and Tsunoda) and 2 lost out on lap 1 to cars on soft tyres (Bottas to Leclerc and Gasly to Norris and Ricciardo before colliding with the latter). In the race there was no point running the first set too long due to the risk of the undercut. Alpha Tauri should have been in the fight for 4th and 5th place yet picked up a 9th.

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