In what has been a difficult rookie season for Yuki Tsunoda, thanks to several accidents, questions were raised about his future in Formula 1. However, those questions were ended earlier this week as AlphaTauri confirmed that he would continue partnering with Pierre Gasly in 2022.
The Japanese driver has scored only 18 points so far in this campaign, compared to Gasly’s 66.
“I'm really excited of course,” said Tsunoda about his renewal.
“The first half of the season was quite inconsistent and also from my side, I was a bit surprised I'd be staying next year so first of all thanks to the team, and really excited for this opportunity again for next year. And for this year, just learn as much as possible.”
Pressed on why he was surprised to keep his drive for 2022, Tsunoda spoke about the fact he’s crashed numerous times in either practice or qualifying.
“Because I just keep crashing! So I spent lots of money for the whole team. It's not a good way to end the first half of the season, especially like in Hungary, I went into the wall in FP1 and ruined the whole session, almost two sessions. I got [told] by Franz [Tost, AlphaTauri Team Principal] and by Helmut [Marko, Red Bull motorsports advisor] that you need a more consistent result... and also discipline in those sessions.”
The start of 2021 had looked really promising for the 21-year-old. He was rapid in pre-season testing at the Bahrain International Circuit and backed it up with a P9 finish on debut at the Middle East venue.
However, after a crash in qualifying at Imola, Tsunoda felt his confidence took a big hit and needed to rebuild it following each error.
“Especially in the first race, I didn't know what was going to happen in a Formula 1 race and I just fully sent it almost every session,” said Tsunoda.
“At that point I felt really good, I was controlling the car quite good, and for me, I was feeling I was driving well at that point.
“And then from Imola especially, after qualifying, I lost a little bit maybe the confidence or something like that,” added Tsunoda. “I started to [re-build] it, and after that I kept doing mistakes every time, so I'd reset and rebuild confidence, and that made it a bit of a struggle.
“I didn't expect that much difficulty in Formula 1, because even in junior categories, I didn’t have a massive snap or went into the wall. I never had this much [loss of] confidence, so that's one main issues. So that's why I'm building up and trying to have more consistent laps, more consistent sessions.
“Also at the beginning of the season, the expectation was too high, and that's why I think, the first race went well but after that, it was getting confusing… each race week, and that made a bad spiral. I think now for me it's okay. The last three races, I was not maybe performing well in qualifying but I think I started to get a little more learning about the car, so now it's okay and going well I think.”