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Tsunoda surprised to make bigger impact in Europe than Japan after debut

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In the round-up: Yuki Tsunoda says he was surprised to attract more attention from European fans than those in his native Japan after his points-scoring F1 debut.

In brief

Tsunoda surprised by popularity in Europe

A combination of finishing ninth on his F1 debut and dropping in on fellow Red Bull junior Liam Lawson’s livestreams has led to Yuki Tsunoda building a large European fanbase in recent weeks, with his social media following growing by 152,121 followers across Instagram and Twitter and becoming a quick fan favourite. It’s taken the 20-year-old by surprise.

“It was interesting that after Bahrain, I think I got a bigger reaction from European fans than from those in Japan,” said Tsunoda.

“It’s a cultural thing: Japanese fans want to see what I do in a few rounds before getting a proper impression.”

Tsunoda made one of the best starts to an F1 career by a Japanese driver. Only Satoru Nakajima and Shinji Nakano achieved higher finishes in their first races.

“I was surprised at that reaction in Europe. I didn’t expect it, because for me, Bahrain was not a perfect weekend and I was hoping to finish higher,” he added. “I am happy about the fans’ support, but I don’t feel pressure because of it, I take it as something positive and this weekend I will just get on and do my job.”

Sainz shouldn’t advertise weakness – Smedley

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021
Sainz said he’d take it easy at the start
Former Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley said Carlos Sainz Jnr approached his first grand prix weekend with the Scuderia in the right way, but made one notable error.

Speaking to the F1 Nation podcast, Smedley said Sainz was wise not to make any bold claims about his entry into what some consider Charles Leclerc’s team.

“The worst thing that you could do is kind of come in and make a big, bold statement that you’re going to send Charles off into the weeds and you’re going to get number one status or whatever it is that I’m sure you eventually want, or you’ll both eventually want that. Because if that doesn’t work, the pressure just mounts on you and it becomes almost insurmountable, the task that you’ve got in hand.”

While he was impressed Sainz approached his team move and the Bahrain Grand Prix with caution in expectations, he did point out the error in being too candid about that caution in the lead up to the race seeing as his rivals could take advantage of it.

“I don’t think you should ever show your weaknesses. I mean Carlos probably should have kept its powder dry on that one. I think that was perhaps something that he didn’t want to advertise to his fellow adversaries.”

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Comment of the day

The first two days of on-track action at the Emilia-Romagna GP have been hit by a late timetable shift for the oddest of reasons: a private funeral in another country. But the death of Britain’s Prince Philip has become a global event and F1 broadcasters didn’t want their motorsport coverage to run at the same time as the world mourn the prince. Some think it’s a pointless gesture and a case of lobbying by television companies, while Witan sees no harm done in the change.

It is a kind gesture to a man who was so long associated, indeed president of, the BRDC. Not essential but a one hour shift in time hurts no one and says much about F1 caring about it’s heritage.
Witan

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On this day in F1

  • 30 years ago today Alex Zanardi won the first race of the new Formula 3000 season at Vallelunga. Christian Fittipaldi was second, Damon Hill fourth behind Antonio Tamburini

Author information

Elliot Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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9 comments on “Tsunoda surprised to make bigger impact in Europe than Japan after debut”

  1. I have nothing against Tsunoda but he has been massively hyped up in Europe. I think people just like him, and like the Japanese.

    1. Yeah – I think it’s partly just that aggressive driving style that several Japanese drivers have had. Kobayashi was another who people gravitated to and Sato in Indycar. All 3 are really entertaining drivers to watch.

    2. @peartree @petebaldwin
      I’m okay with the hype, especially as it’s for a reason. He could be the best driver Japan has ever had in F1.

  2. The Canadian GP issue not only could but has to get resolved soon as even this event needs some lead time despite grandstands being pretty much the only temporary infrastructure build-up beforehand and dismantled after. The flyaway freight thing is another thing, but overall, time is running out.
    F1 certainly tries to get exempted from the quarantine requirement similar to Australia, albeit if no one else or no other sports series get one, neither should F1 people, for fairness’ sake.

    I agree with Witan in the ‘hurts no one’ part, but my overall view is still the same, especially as the funeral isn’t even public.

  3. Still not sure what ‘error’ Sainz made in speaking to the press; he merely mentioned that he is still under-driving the car because he is new to the team.
    Seems a very logical approach and we’ve seen similar comments from Ricciardo.

    The main ‘error’ was maybe somebody needing to criticise him and others picking up on it and writing it up and publishing it on the web.

    1. I’m with you. Sainz just did and said nothing wrong. He’s a kind and smart bloke, period.

      Used to like Smedley, but he’s completely off the radar here, criticizing someone for no criticizing.

  4. Sounds like Smedley is still stuck in the olden days.
    This younger generation seems to be far more open and honest with each other and with the fans, than the last couple of generations that came before.

    Reply moderated
  5. I’m just hoping that he doesn’t try too hard to live up to what seems to be a ton of expectation and is allowed to develop during the season.

  6. Correction: Super Formula isn’t moving their season finale, they’re moving their sixth round.

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