Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Istanbul Park, 2021

Tsunoda says he “wants Max to win” and tried to keep Hamilton behind for longer

2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Yuki Tsunoda says he tried to keep Lewis Hamilton behind as long as he could in the opening stages of the Turkish Grand Prix.

The AlphaTauri driver admitted he is keen to see fellow Honda-powered driver Max Verstappen beat Hamilton to the championship this year. Tsunoda kept Hamilton behind, while also trying to preserve his tyres, until the eighth lap of the race.

Asked by RaceFans whether he enjoyed his duel with the seven-times world champion, Tsunoda said: “I don’t care much to be honest.

“I want Max to win, it’s the last year of Honda [with] Red Bull as well. I tried to hold Lewis as much as possible, I don’t know how many laps. I was trying to save more but I couldn’t.”

After passing Tsunoda, Hamilton passed Lance Stroll, Lando Norris and the other AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly much more quickly. But despite having kept the Mercedes at bay longer than his rivals, Tsunoda said “eight laps, it’s not enough.”

He admitted he took too much life out of his tyres at that stage in the race and suffered because of it later.

“I just used too much tyre early on battling with Hamilton,” he said. “After that it was really hard to keep up the pace.

“I just had a spin and tried to go faster. Also the mirrors, I couldn’t see anything because of, I think, dust. I just couldn’t see, I thought there was a car right behind me so I just had to push and spun.

“The spin ruined my whole race, so it’s a shame. It was possible to score points today, so it’s just a shame.”

Having started inside the top 10 for the first time since the Austrian Grand Prix, Tsunoda said he was disappointed not to have contributed to AlphaTauri’s championship score.

“I was really hoping [to] score points. We’re also fighting in the teams championship for P5 and it was a good opportunity to get us big points, compared to Alpine. But I just feel sorry for the team.”

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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...
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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59 comments on “Tsunoda says he “wants Max to win” and tried to keep Hamilton behind for longer”

  1. Trying to hold on to the seat I see :-)

  2. This kid is just too honest. He should learn to lie a bit.

  3. He should be taught that the best defense is a good offense.

    He could use some wisdom from Ender’s Game:
    “I don’t care if I pass your test, I don’t care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won’t let you beat me unfairly – I’ll beat you unfairly first”.

  4. So, people recognize that the championship is lost and started the “it was everybody against Lewis” narrative?

    1. Even Bottas defends against Hamilton better than Max.

  5. And I was just starting to like him….

    1. I am starting to like him

    2. There seems to be an immense disproportion between what Tsunoda says (which is a lot, including his insults for other drivers and to his own team) and what he has actually achieved on Formula 1, which is zero, zilch, nada, a big nothing. His defense against Hamilton was excellent, and if he wants to be Honda-partisan, or claim to be, that’s great. Messing up his own race to do so doesn’t make him sound very clever though.

    3. Next season will be his last season. Albon will come back in 2023.

  6. Very commendable; but maybe not highlight the fact you threw away some possible points for your team by helping out another one.

  7. Obviously everyone knows the AT drivers would make it far more difficult for a Mercedes than a Red Bull, but… still seems odd hearing a driver openly admit to compromising their own race to benefit a driver from a ‘different team’.

    1. Yes, honesty does feel odd after years and years of listening to Wollf and Hamilton speak doesn’t it?

    2. The driver does whatever he wants. It’s when team bosses start giving instructions (like the Russel shouldn’t fight a Mercedes too hard by Toto) that I’m getting worried.

      1. The driver does as he’s told. I can’t imagine a world in which Tsunoda has not been told (repeatedly) by either Marko, Tost, Horner or all three, that he’s meant to be easy on Red Bulls and hard on Mercedes.

        1. Agree, he drives for Red Bull and he best not give Lewis an easy pass for position.

    3. Like Ocon admitted to sky Italy in monaco 2018 to let Lewis pass?

      1. Letting someone by is one thing but the same person making the life of other racer is difficult is totally on the other level

  8. He did a superb job holding Hamilton back too, sadly, I suspect pushed his tyres too hard in the process.

    1. Yeah, it was a really good defence from him. That was really one of the highlights of the race, and of Tsunoda’s season @maddme.

    2. He did a good job to keep his name a little relevant to F1, otherwise he is only having bad reputation (crashing more than Mazepin).

  9. This cartoon will be out of F1 soon after Honda. One of the least talented Redbull driver ever. Every race weekend he is crashing or spinning.

    1. However he did a better job than usual this weekend, and certainly there were worse drivers, such as hartley.

      1. I don’t agree with that. Hartley was decent, but Tsunoda is there just because of Honda. He doesn’t belong to F1.

    2. I tend to agree and would rather see Albon in that seat. However today he performed better than most in battling Lewis. He seems to often do the opposite of what you expect from him.

    3. There’s dignity and sportsmanship in defending from a faster car, even if it isn’t the best strategy for your race. But you noshers don’t even know what those words, dignity and sportsmanship, mean.

      1. There is no dignity or sportsmanship in foolishness. Old Samurai saying.

        1. Yep, I get it. Not getting out our your way to let Sir Cranemaster pass making sure the mo fo does not lose a single tenth is what you call foolishness.

  10. So he directly admitted trying to make things harder for Hamilton.
    He’d probably also let Hamilton by less easily than Max when getting lapped.
    Nevertheless, he made his unforced error because he mistakenly thought he had someone behind.
    He threw away a higher points haul for AT.

    1. He admitted the actions Norris and stroll did for Hamilton.
      Alas It’s all in the game

      1. erikje, I have to say I totally agree with @jerejj

        As Lando was on a completely different strategy than Ham; it would have been really silly to fight/defend Ham or anyone else going that fast and on a different game plan that would have help burn up their tires faster, it’s much smarter to let them pass to save tires. Lets look at the score sheet:
        In doing so, Lando finished 7th scoring badly need team points with a weak car in TUR while Tsunoda with a fast car finished 14th with zero points when they badly needed the points for his team to help beat Alpine in the WCC. Gasly can’t do it all by himself. I guess its Tsunoda’s prerogative to help another team and do what he likes to do but maybe not at the big cost of his own team.

        Alpha Tauri has been doing extremely well this season and great to see that, it’s a shame that only one driver has been able to capitalize points with the fast car that the team has produced. The AT engineers and Gasly deserve a standing ovation!

  11. That driving gives him more credit than one or two points. Where he not from AT everybody would congrat him for the drive. Like did for Alonso few races ago

    1. Wrong, Alonso was praised because he sacrificed his race for his teammate not another driver in a different team.

  12. Was surprisingly good defending. I thought he would go off after a few corners.

    Reply moderated
  13. This particular toadying is a bit too cack-handed I think.

  14. Ahaha 😁
    Comments here are intresting
    If someone were holding Max in order to make Lewis win more point or pass him, what woud you say ? ….

    1. How about Norris and his relentless consistency of letting Hamilton passing him easily from the inside whenever he sees him in his mirrors ? Norris the same driver who cannot stand anyone trying to overtake him and was penalised many times for his dirty moves that compromised other drivers races.

      1. “How about Norris and his relentless consistency of letting Hamilton passing him easily from the inside whenever he sees him in his mirrors ?”

        I guess you missed Austria then.

      2. @tifoso1989 this would be the same Norris that not only held Hamilton off for an extended period of time in Austria, but then sought to, and eventually did, repass him later in that race? The same Norris who also held off Hamilton for an extended period of time during the Italian GP, and was again holding off Hamilton in the Russian GP?

        As for your claim that “Norris the same driver who cannot stand anyone trying to overtake him and was penalised many times for his dirty moves that compromised other drivers races.” – Norris currently has only been penalised once within the last 12 months for a move which was considered unfair, which was against Perez during the Austrian GP, so claiming he’s had “multiple” penalties is clearly an exaggeration.

        Norris has the same number of penalties for either colliding with another driver or forcing another driver off the track as Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, Leclerc, Ocon, Vettel, Russell and Mazepin, and fewer penalties than either Perez, Raikkonen or Stroll.

  15. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    10th October 2021, 20:21

    Some drivers realise there are times to defend and times when you will be overtaken. By defending you are usually slower.

    The fact Hamilton got to 3rd in that stint it appears in the end Yuki didn’t really achieve anything except ruin his own race.

    1. Rather, the fact that Tsunoda held him for eight laps or so meant that he could only get to third and not closer or even challenge Verstappen and Bottas….. So a job well done by Tsunoda for Redbull

      Reply moderated
    2. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      10th October 2021, 20:43

      I suppose Yuki could of crashed into Hamilton as he went round the outside of him.

      1. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
        10th October 2021, 20:44

        Sorry I meant understeered.

        1. I think you meant holding the racing line

          Reply moderated
  16. He’s going to get a lot of hate for saying that and much of it won’t be fair. Not everyone is a Lewis Hamilton fan, if that’s his opinion. If he’s supporting Verstappen and openly making life difficult for Hamilton because he wants to support Red Bull & Honda only then he’s doing no different than Wolff insisting Russell shouldn’t fight strongly against a Mercedes as ‘they’re all team-mates’. Tsunoda’s just said the quiet part out loud.

    1. Thank you – well put. The Russell comparison is bang on. Not a Tsunoda fan (anymore) but he did his job today.

      1. How is that in any way similar, did Toto ever told Russell to hold up Max?

        1. Did Horner tell Yuki?

  17. Nell (@imabouttogoham)
    11th October 2021, 0:19

    Fair enough – he is paid by the same bucket of money as Horner and Max

  18. I remember one race diResta in Force India was just letting much better cars past without putting up a fight in order to save time against his real opponents, yet his engineer actually came on the radio and told him we are racing here (basically you must seem to be fighting) because I guess it looked bad on TV just waving cars through.

    Of course diResta’s tactic worked and the seconds he saved he gained in real positions later, but interesting even an F1 team thinks it’s important for the image of the team to be putting up a fight against cars you are not really battling even if it loses time and real positions down the line.

    Reply moderated
  19. He did what he did for Honda. And he did it quite well. Plus: it was a fight for position so he had every right to do so. And yes.. defending against Lewis on a wet track also will have done more for his image than bag one or 2 points would.
    It’s not like the “sure I’ll go out of my way to let Lewis pass” from Norris or the weak defence from Stroll or the fierce defense from Alonso every time Lewis is behind him. The kid had the right and I think he was right to do this. Honda is his team so he did the team-thing.

    1. agree- maybe LH would have been able to reach Max if he hadn’t spent so much time and used up some of his tire performance trying to make the pass. I was impressed how he handled himself with LH filling his mirrors.

  20. is he driving for alpha tauri or driving for red bull. I find his comment hilarious. Holding ham up and ultimately ruining his own race. Alpha tauri should definitely thank him for not raking up valuable points.

    Reply moderated
  21. In the future Tsunoda should concentrate on his own race and stop making the multiple mistakes he makes every time he hits the track. He is not in the fight for the championship and while I respect his honesty; he should recognize like Lando does, that getting between the top 2 drivers when he does not have the car to win or podium should not be his fight.

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