Much is expected from AlphaTauri’s Japanese rookie Yuki Tsunoda but in the first instance the young racer is out to rebuild some bridges. Tsunoda sees this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix as chance to reset himself after declaring he "lost his mind" last time out in Spain.
Speaking to the media at the Drivers’ Press Conference ahead of the Monaco GP, the popular and on occasion outspoken rookie tried to undo some past mistakes. An unexpected exit in Q1 at the Spanish Grand Prix, resulted in Tsunoda being far from impressed and his consequent outburst berating the performance of his car on team radio was broadcasted to the watching public. Having started in 16th on race day, his Spanish Grand Prix was short lived due to a mechanical failure – causing many a meme saying how Tsunoda needs to watch out for the consequences of his comments.
Nevertheless, Yuki Tsunoda now claims that the timing of Monaco will allow him to have a reset.
"Especially in Barcelona I had a really difficult race week," Tsunoda said. "I don't want to do again that kind of race week in the future, so [I want to] just have a reset.”
As much as Tsunoda is looking for a reset, to his credit, the rookie held his hands up and apologized for his behaviour and his performance:
"But still, especially in qualifying [and the comments] on the radio, I feel really a lot of regrets. I lost my mind. Even now, I shouldn't say that, the thing I just said in Barcelona. So yeah I just don't want to do it again and have to reset from there.
Tsunoda explained that despite being one of his favourite tracks, he has not raced on the streets of Monaco before but that does not mean he does not have a plan for how to tackle the most famous circuit on the F1 calendar.
"I don't have any experience here, so just have to build up the pace," Tsunoda explained.
"I think the approach to Monaco compared to other tracks is a little bit different, especially as you don't want to go immediately pushing hard and go into the wall…So I think building up the pace is the most important thing. And I think to have proper clean sessions, especially FP1, FP2 and FP3 is really important for building up confidence, and to prepare for qualifying.
"I think I can use the experience from the past and to improve from my side, and yeah, hopefully it's going to be a good race week for AlphaTauri."
So, how did Yuki Tsunoda fare in both Free Practice sessions of the first Monaco Grand Prix weekend in 2 years? Plus, what experience would see him through the weekend? On this matter, Tsunoda shared his experience of the street circuit with Sky F1:
‘Never driven here before…not in anything…I grew up with the Formula One game.’
Therefore, it was somewhat surprising to see that, at the conclusion of the opening Free Practice session, Yuki Tsunoda sat in 9th compared to his high flying teammate Pierre Gasly who was an impressive fourth quickest on the timing charts - having seen both drivers run the soft.
Unfortunately, after such a solid session in the morning, the same could not be said during an incident filled red flag culminating Free Practice 2. Pierre Gasly dropped to seventh in the table whereas Yuki Tsunoda, having hit the rear of his AT02 on the barrier at turn 16 (just 15 minutes into the session) was left plum last in 20th.
If Monaco is going to turn out to be a reset button for the Japanese racer, one can only imagine he wishes he could turn his computer game off and load it up again. Alas, this is real life and Yuki Tsunoda is starting to see just how real the challenge of Formula One is. However, points are given out on Sunday and Tsunoda is never short of confidence so don’t be surprised to see him make headlines for doing his talking on the track – as opposed to team radio.