Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Imola, 2021

Tsunoda admits he wasted car’s potential at Imola

2021 F1 Season

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Yuki Tsunoda owned up to his errors in a messy second F1 race weekend at Imola, which he admitted gave him trouble sleeping.

The AlpahTauri driver’s problems began in qualifying, where he failed to set a time after crashing during Q1.

Speaking after the race, Tsunoda said his qualifying error had wasted the car’s potential. “For me, Q1 was completely my mistake,” he said. “When I see the car performance overall this weekend, I didn’t have to push that much.

“I don’t know why, I just pushed too much even though I don’t have to. I went off-track so that was completely my mistake, just an error from me.”

In the race he made progress at first, but spun at Tamburello after the final restart while trying to pass Lewis Hamilton. Tsunoda later received a five-second time penalty for repeatedly exceeding track limits at Piratella.

He was more concerned by his driving errors than the track limits violations. “The pace was there,” he said. “I nearly overtook Lewis. So the pace was there but I made it difficult all by myself.

“For me, track limits, for my position I don’t care much, to be honest. I was just very frustrated. just trying to go as fast as possible.

“Of course [I got] the penalty [because] I did it again and again; that was, again, for me not a good thing.

“In the future, just learning for me. I just have to consistently make it more focussed. Until the red flag, my focus was good but then I lost some focus after the red flag and this is the key for the future.”

Tsunoda arrived at Imola with extensive experience of the track from his pre-season testing at the circuit, which is close to AlphaTauri’s base. He admitted the error-strewn weekend affected him.

“When I make mistakes I always struggle to sleep, especially after [the qualifying crash] because it was a big thing for me.”

He apologised for his performance to AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost. “Franz was actually saying ‘don’t worry, it’s learning’ and most rookies are going to do exactly the same at least once in their first year. I’ll just learn from it and don’t do it next time.”

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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...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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11 comments on “Tsunoda admits he wasted car’s potential at Imola”

  1. No worries, he’ll learn and get better with experience.

    1. He’ll bounce back stronger next race.

      Reply moderated
    2. He’ll bounce back stronger.

  2. I really hope he can deliver some results. Such a great character. I’ll be sad if he realises his potential in the Alpha Tauri which seems to have the pace. Would love to see him earn a spot in F1 for the long haul.

    1. never realises*

  3. I hope this doesn’t go the other way being too careful as that can bring trouble as well.

    Wasn’t there a racing mate telling us all recently how Tsunoda normally starts races carefully and gets more pushy as the race goes on? This is obviously not in character then.

    Anyway, I’m quite amused by his outbursts on the radio and like his no-respect attitude. Hopefully he’ll find the right balance soon.

  4. Classic “difficult second album” for Tsunoda. But, he is clearly quick, so hopefully consistency will follow soon enough.

  5. R (@gunnarlowly)
    26th April 2021, 12:27

    That’s the thing, it can be tricky to have a somewhat competitive car in your rookie year because then you have to deal with extra expectations, even if those are set by Tsunoda himself. For sure Mick wouldn’t care about not living up to his car’s potential because, well, there seems to be none at the moment.

    Gasly needs to step up his game though. We all know Red Bull is done with him so if he wants to have a chance at Alpine or somewhere, he needs to do better. I realise this race was crazy so you can’t judge the final result but he also bottled it in Bahrain and that’s already two disappointing races to start off the season. You can say it is a long season, but who’s to say the Alpha Tauri is still going to be this competitive by the end of it?

    Tsunoda needs to avoid unforced mistakes and show consistency, but delivering the car’s full potential is not his problem. He should be fine.

    Reply moderated
  6. R (@gunnarlowly) That’s the thing, it can be tricky to have a somewhat competitive car in your rookie year because then you have to deal with extra expectations,

    \what you are saying is true but Leclerc handled that situation very well. Far better than Yuki has done so far. I may be being a bit premature in my comment but Yuki has been very uninpressive so far. And this is the driver that Ross Brawn said is the most exciting talent F1 has seen for a long time. I think that he was more pemature than me.
    It is good though that he is getting lots of support on this site though, I just wonder how long Marko will continue to support him.

    1. R (@gunnarlowly)
      27th April 2021, 7:03

      If you recall, Leclerc was terrible in his first three races. More even than Tsunoda so far, I’d say. After that he adapted quickly and there’s no reason to think Tsunoda won’t be able to do the same.

      Maybe what you mean is Leclerc’s first season at Ferrari, but he wasn’t a rookie then. And the Ferrari wasn’t just competitive, it was the second best car. Leclerc did well, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a situation that’s similar in any way to what Tsunoda’s going through right now.

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