Yuki Tsunoda scored his first point since April with tenth place in the Belgian Grand Prix, meaning he has outscored both of the team mates he has had this year.
Tsunoda started 11th on Sunday, made it up to eighth on the opening lap and climbed another place with a lap three pass on Lance Stroll. Before his pit stop he ran seventh, and dropped back to 11th once he returned to track.
His second stint was spent primarily in ninth place, and got as high as sixth before he pitted again. That returned him to ninth, a position which he lost with seven laps to go. Regardless, he was pleased to match his team’s best result from the previous 21 races.
He also acknowledged it was important for him to finish ahead of new team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who beat Tsunoda on his Formula 1 comeback at the Hungarian Grand Prix the week before.
“This current situation is completely new for me and I’m learning a lot,” Tsunoda said of going up against Ricciardo.
“Like especially [being] challenged by an experienced driver, and that experienced driver is not like a normal experienced driver, he’s a top driver and we know that he’s fast. And I already know he’s fast.
“But also how he’s behaving in the team is like pretty much probably the opposite as me. So there are lots of things to learn from him, and also a bit of pressure for myself.
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“Probably that kind of makes a rush feeling, and I had a couple of mistakes last couple of races. But [I was] able to put it all together in the last race. It was not easy, but just happy and feeling ready for fight with him second half of the season.”
Tsunoda praised AlphaTauri’s “fantastic job” over the weekend that enabled him to maximise their car’s pace on Sunday while sacrificing some performance for Friday qualifying and Saturday’s two sprint sessions.
“The set-up we were aiming for was Sunday more, so I knew we were going to a little bit struggle in the rain,” he said on Sunday evening. “But still, with rain it was not too bad and able to put it into P11 [in qualifying].
“I was able to maximise the car performance today, so I’m happy. And especially the last couple of races I struggled a lot and yesterday was a really horrible day.”
Saturday was also wet, and Tsunoda was only 16th-fastest in the sprint race qualifying session. He then fared even worse in the sprint race, being the last-placed finisher in 18th. But Sunday’s result marked the first time he had finished in the top 12 of a race since the Spanish Grand Prix.
Tsunoda said he was in a “slightly happier comfort zone” leading up to that race, and afterwards he “lost the rhythm”. But on Sunday in Belgium it went “back to the same shape or similar shape I had at the beginning of the season” where he finished no lower than 11th in the first five grands prix.
“The start was good, especially first stint we were flying,” he said. “I think I was quite matching to the Aston Martins’ pace, and I think that first stint was kind of key to score the points because the Alpine was still much faster than us, Aston was also very fast.”
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2023 Belgian Grand Prix
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