Team’s late call for extra pit stop gave me a heart attack – Tsunoda

Formula 1

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Yuki Tsunoda said he “got a heart attack” during the United States Grand Prix when AlphaTauri called him in for a late pit stop.

He had spent most of the race fighting to score his first points since the Belgian Grand Prix, making it into the top 10 on lap four and moving up to ninth on lap 10. His first pit stop dropped him to 13th, but he soon recovered back to ninth.

Tsunoda’s second pit stop, which was scheduled to be his last, cost him two places and although he made those back he was then passed by the Aston Martins and fell outside the points places. When one of the Aston Martins retired, Tsunoda was back in tenth and had a 20-second gap to the car behind.

AlphaTauri pitted Tsunoda with two laps to go to provide him with a fresh set of tyres to go for fastest lap. He achieved the feat by a 1.2 seconds.

Although he relished the opportunity to drive a final flying lap of the circuit, he admitted the call to came him made him fear he was going to lose his points finish.

“I super-enjoyed that last lap with the fresh tyres,” Tsunoda told media including RaceFans. “To be honest I got a heart attack when I had to box because I thought it’s like something, an issue from the engine or whatever.

“But after I heard we go for the fastest lap, then I was relieved. But still there was a bit of pressure on, we were able to still score the fastest lap, so it was good.”

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He said it was “probably the first experience, going for fastest lap in the last lap” after spending the previous stint focusing on managing his tyres.

“It was kind of thrilling. But at the same time I enjoyed it. The amount of grip I felt, with the low fuel, it’s amazing,” he beamed.

“For myself it was 100% [on that lap]. From the engine side it was not probably 100%. We probably wouldn’t be able to recharge the battery or whatever. But for myself, at least 100%. Last push.

“Especially here, it’s a physical and demanding track, so it was pretty hard but we refocused and were able to score [the point] and actually able to kind of improve quite a big chunk of time.”

Tsunoda felt his race result and fastest lap showed the upgrades AlphaTauri has brought to recent races, including last weekend, were working.

“The people who work in the background, in Faenza, in Bicester, try to improve our package as much as possible race by race, and definitely we’re making progress little by little. And definitely I felt we’re getting closer towards the P10.

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“So if you look at this race, still I had a bit of luck towards the end to score points, but anything can happen like this race so we tried to be around P10 and get the points as much as possible.”

“I love this track,” he added. “Three years in a row in the points is pretty, pretty amazing. Especially in front of these Austin fans.”

His points haul increased after the race when Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc were disqualified. Tsunoda was promoted to eighth place, making his total haul for the weekend five instead of two.

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Author information

Ida 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...
RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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4 comments on “Team’s late call for extra pit stop gave me a heart attack – Tsunoda”

  1. Really? Over such a call.
    Good move anyway, as that extra point could prove crucial against Haas & maybe also Alfa Romeo, so worth a go.

    1. “To be honest I got a heart attack when I had to box because I thought it’s like something, an issue from the engine or whatever.”

      Makes sense, I’d say.

  2. Lewisham Milton
    23rd October 2023, 23:02

    Glad somebody super-enjoyed it, because being granted permission to drive properly (probably by unChristian in a separate team) is a massive problem with F1 and its tyres at the moment.

  3. He was so unlucky in Monza and Singapore. Monaco as well where he was P9 before then brake issue. In Japan he got screwed by the team but he could have got closer to Alpine. So well deserved luck in the US with faster car DNF, penalties.

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