Yuki Tsunoda’s first half of his rookie F1 season was like a roller coaster ride. He himself described it as “very volatile” but still enjoyed the major part of it.
Yet the Japanese driver’s F1 career got off to a great start. He came to the premier class as one of the most hyped individuals and scored points right away in his first race. After the Bahrain GP, however, the season did not go as he had hoped. With 10 more GPs, he holds at 4 points finishes. Together with his teammate Pierre Gasly, however, they remain the only team to score points in every race so far. Yuki Tsunoda will now try to make up for this inconsistency at the Belgian GP.
“The first half of the season overall was really interesting and enjoyable. Many things about it were unexpected for me. It did not really match with what I had thought it might be like before the season started.
“There were lots of ups and downs and at times my performance was very inconsistent. But overall, I am quite happy because I managed to score points, helping AlphaTauri to be the only team to score points in every race so far this year.”
However, the Japanese is looking forward to the Challenge at Spa-Francorchamps and hopes for better results, as he did in his junior days.
“It’s great that we start racing again at Spa, because I have very good memories from this track. Last year in Formula 2, I won the Feature Race starting from pole position and the year before that in Formula 3, it was here that I got my first podium in the category.
“I like the track, so I am looking forward to it and I think it will be one of the circuits that will feel extra special in a Formula 1 car for the first time. It will be an especially interesting experience to see how an F1 car goes through Eau Rouge.”
AlphaTauri’s technical director, Jody Egginton, also says it’s nothing surprising that new F1 drivers have difficulties at the start.
“If you consider any first-time driver in F1 who’s had any length of career, they have ups and downs,” Egginton said.
“I can think back to my time in previous teams where at the start of the season with a young driver, there was a mixture of exuberance and bad luck. And before you know it, you are five races in and scratching your head and going ‘what’s gone on there?’.
“It’s not unusual for me. It’s frustrating and challenging, but it’s not out of the blue.
“I think some of the added focus is on the fact that he had a good opening race. The car’s competitive, and then the expectation goes up, but you’re still on that same learning process.
Tsunoda’s rapid rise through the formula series doesn’t make his entry into F1 any easier. The complexity of the pinnacle of motorsports makes it difficult to adapt quickly.
“Obviously he’s not the first with [Felipe] Massa, [Kimi] Raikkonen, other people like this doing it.
“What is different now of course is the complexity of Formula 1. In terms of the driver workload, it is difficult to draw parallels to other instances.
“With the intensity of what you’ve got to pick up, what you’ve got to learn and also the rapid pace of development in F1 from an engineering and car development side, it just makes it more challenging.
“If you got a younger driver in the car, it is even harder, because that track time has more value. There is so much going on, but [Yuki] is on the learning curve, it’s a steep curve and he’s doing a fantastic job.”