Yuki Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri, Bahrain International Circuit, 2021

F1 team mate battles at mid-season: Gasly vs Tsunoda

2021 F1 season

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Yuki Tsunoda’s points score on his debut for AlphaTauri in Bahrain proved somewhat of a false dawn. He’s added to his tally since then, but not with the regularity AlphaTauri needs.

Meanwhile Pierre Gasly in the other AT02 has piled up the points to the extent that Tsunoda has the smallest share of any team’s total score.

The newcomer’s problems have often started in qualifying. He’s lagged around half a second off Gasly’s pace on average, and that’s if he didn’t crash, which has also happened too often. As a result Tsunoda has failed to progress beyond Q1 in more than half of the events so far. All in, it’s left him more than six places behind Gasly on average after qualifying – a significant disadvantage.

Tsunoda has been chipping away at the deficit, however. At the Austrian Grand Prix he was 0.16s off his team mate, his closest yet, after revising his approach to practice to build up his speed for qualifying more gradually. But the change of race weekend format at Silverstone disrupted that approach, and in Hungary he did himself no favours with another crash in qualifying

AlphaTauri is the only team besides Red Bull to have scored points in every race weekend this year. Having been propelled to fifth in the standings by Gasly’s windfall result in Azerbaijan, it clung to the place until Hungary, where it slipped to sixth despite delivering its second-best result of the season. Had Sebastian Vettel not been disqualified, they’d be seventh.

The gulf between their drivers points’ scores is a big part of the reason they aren’t as far up the table as arguably they should be. However team principal Franz Tost clearly rates Tsunoda’s speed and is willing to be patient while the 21-year-old builds up his experience of Formula 1 cars and tracks.

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Pierre Gasly vs Yuki Tsunoda: Key stats

Pierre Gasly vs Yuki Tsunoda: Who finished ahead at each round

Pierre GaslyQ
Yuki TsunodaQ

Pierre Gasly vs Yuki Tsunoda: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time. Negative indicates Pierre Gasly was faster, positive means Yuki Tsunoda was faster

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “F1 team mate battles at mid-season: Gasly vs Tsunoda”

  1. While Tsunoda has overall been underwhelming post-Bahrain GP and crashed unnecessarily often, I’m sure he’ll improve through experience. BTW, in Hungary, he crashed out in FP1, not QLF.

  2. After a really promising season in F2 I expected more from Tsunoda.

    However Alpha Tauri fits Gasly like a glove and he performs well there. Too mad the nature of the team probably won’t allow him to stick around for too long.

    I get the feeling that this isn’t a talent gap. Just that Gasly gels really well with the car and the team.

    We’ve seen what it’s like when Gasly doesn’t gel with the team and the car.

    1. @napierrailton whilst Gasly seems to be getting on well with the team, there are those who say that Tsunoda is not the easiest driver to get on with either. The angry radio messages that we’ve occasionally heard are apparently how Tsunoda normally behaves in the cockpit, and probably aren’t helping him integrate with the team.

  3. Everyone likes Tsunoda but he is doing just as poorly as expected. The big problem is that Gasly is low bar to compare with.

    1. Man has qualified in the top six more often than not this year, cut him some slack. He’s been acting like a third RB driver with his skill.

      1. Yes, gasly was horrible at red bull but at toro rosso he always performed well, both before and after the demotion, the question is: is he ready for another red bull shot? I wouldn’t take him for a whole season, I would want him to perform around perez level after 5 races and don’t get worse after, like perez is doing.

  4. I thought Tsunoda would be good – quick but a bit crashy – but he’s been very disappointing with his lack of pace, plus even more crashes than expected. In addition, he really needs to work on his attitude. Doesn’t come across well or level-headed at all on the radio. Still, I think the potential is there – he really needs a good run of clean weekends though.

    As for Gasly… I hope I’m not alone in being somewhat underwhelmed this season. That car is really, really fast – as his qualifying results show – but he really has not made the most of it in the races. Some bad luck of course – Leclerc driving into him in a straight line in Austria, for example – but often poor starts and iffy race pace.

    1. @tflb Leclerc didn’t drive ‘into’ him, a racing incident, but otherwise, yes, he’s thrown away some point by not maximizing grid positions.

  5. I’d much rather see Albon alongside Gasly next year. It would be so much better for the team. Less frustration, better results, less swearing. They could fight it out for a RB-seat in 2023.

    Personally i’ve seen enough. Tsunoda doesn’t have the right attitude and approach to succeed in F1. He is all talent and nothing else.

    1. @me4me I reckon Tsunoda will stay and hope he eventually will, but if I had to choose, I’d instead go for Vips than Albon because the former is a more deserving one. Albon, after all, only got an F1 chance in the first place through luck as RB lacked drivers at the time, but this isn’t the case anymore, so he isn’t necessarily a priority. Certainly not over Gasly and Tsunoda, but neither RB academy drivers. Anyway, too early for definitive judgment on Tsunoda’s chance of succeeding in F1 long-term.

  6. Red Bull did the same mistake with Tsunoda as with many other of their drivers. They promoted him far too quickly upp the racing ladder. Tsunoda has the speed but not the maturity to make use of it.
    Tsunoda should have spent 2 seasons in both F3 and F2.
    Besides I think the best prospect in the Red Bull family of upp and coming drivers is Juri Vips.

    1. Agree. It’s such a strange process they have to throw people in at the deep end and to se rig they sink or swim, which in modern F1 with so little practice with the cars ends up with most sinking. Not everyone is going to be the next Senna or Hamilton yet you feel like that’s what they keep expecting of everyone.

      It’s especially sad that many here are quick to criticise when they fail when they’re set up to fail and with such youth and inexperience and crucially they’re still getting to grips with their cars half way through the season whereas years ago they’d have done thousands of laps in preseason testing before they even begin.

      I hope they’re patient with Tsunoda, it would be great to have an exciting Japanese talent in the sport and the dedicated F1 fan base there deserves that.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        14th August 2021, 15:04

        @davidhunter13 how patient can they be though? It’s F1 and results matter.

        He has to do better or at least come close to matching Gasly.

        1. @freelittlebirds He has time. I’m sure he won’t get axed after this season, but next season might be another matter if he doesn’t improve.

    2. I don’t necessarily agree. Tsunoda does not look any worse than rookies before him. Max himself was way more error prone in his rookie year and look how he came out. Tsunoda is also competing with less preparation, and against an experienced teammate.

  7. I’m always impressed by Gasly, he’s slowly gone from strength to strength and looks like a pretty well rounded and good F1 driver now. I find his development, from the knocks he’s had to where he is now quite impressive and he’s certainly deserving of a stronger seat now – this Gasly would do better at Red Bull than the original.

    Tsunoda I was impressed by in F2 but in F1 he’s been accident and mistake prone and has flashes of strong pace, and then is nowhere. It feels like a good F1 driver’s in there but he may be here a little too early. I do think he could have done with longer in F2 and an Albon/Gasly lineup would have been considerably stronger.

  8. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    14th August 2021, 14:47

    Well, AlphaTauri last year were P7 in the WCC which is their usual finishing spot. They are currently P6 fighting with Alpine (P5) and Aston Martin (P7) and have a legitimate shot at P5 which would be their best result.

    I imagine it will all come down to Tsunoda’s performance whether they do take another step forward.

    That’s quite a bit of pressure for a rookie combined with the fact that his teammate has been doing so well getting a P2 in ’19, a P1 in 20 and a P3 this season.

  9. Shocking to hear Tsunoda has mostly been sitting in the sofa playing console games to where the team principal had to force him into a training and preparedness regime. Very unprofessional.

    Gasly is good in qualifying, but seems to make too many mistakes in races. From his ‘good talk’ with Marko, I guess it’s back to Red Bull if Perez doesn’t shape up next year, so now’s the time to get ready. Especially his battling skills was lacking during his Red Bull stint, but his Baku last lap dash was solid, so improving in all areas. Better than Albon? Probably.

    1. I’m a bit surprised about Yuki’s claim of spending a lot of time playing computer games. I don’t know how true it is, maybe he said it as some sort of joke, but if it is the truth then he hasn’t done his homework. He should know Helmut has a long list of drivers who can produce similar results as he does. Yuki needs to show he is the best driver for that seat otherwise Helmut won’t renew his contract. I know this may surprise some people, but getting angry with a car won’t make it drive better. On the other hand, self discipline and practice can make a huge difference.

  10. Many journalists try to convince us that Tsunoda is fast. But is he, really? What if he can only reach the speed expected from him as soon as he overdrives? He hasn’t been doing enough to show otherwise. I’m not certain if he holds a future in Formula 1, but he shouldn’t give up just yet.

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