The AlphaTauri driver scored a seventh place finish in the Emilia Romagna GP last time out, and even though it fell short of his career-best of fourth place in Abu Dhabi 2021, Tsunoda thinks it was his best race in Formula One to date.
Speaking to media at the circuit, including MotorLAT – which will be bringing you live and exclusive updates of the Miami GP weekend from the paddock – he reviewed his last results and how much confidence that gives him going forward to this weekend’s race.
He explained that a lack of real world data for the Miami International Autodrome will make it very different to Imola, which is a track in which his AlphaTauri team has the most data on the calendar.
“I think I had a really good result in Imola, I’m happy with where I was in that race. But I think this week is gonna be completely different, we don’t have the experience (on track). Also, we all need to take a different approach compared to Imola, especially as Imola was one of the tracks that we had most experience – we had a lot of data.
“Here, we don’t have any data. We have done (it) in the simulator, we just have to go step by step. Of course, you don’t want to take too long to adjust your setup and things like that, but we still have a good confidence I think, we just have to put it all together and we’ll see what happens.”
Reflecting on the impact his strong Imola weekend has made and how much confidence he had, Tsunoda said it was his “best” race in F1 to date, and more importantly, the first time he felt really confident in his AlphaTauri AT03 this season, and hopes his “step by step” approach can help him further improve in the future, like he did in his rookie season:
“Imola was the best feeling I had in terms of confidence. I would say it was a different confidence between Abu Dhabi, when I had it last year (fourth place finish in the race). I didn’t have to reset or rebuild the confidence with a completely new car, but as a race, I would say Imola was the best, kind of similar to Abu Dhabi.
“Difference is, Imola was the first confidence I had this season. So yeah, just keeping like this, increasing my confidence, you have to go step by step with your approach, as I did in my first half season, learning a lot of things last year, so that I can keep having progress and having good results.
Looking ahead to this weekend, Tsunoda is confident the “unique and special” Miami track will provide exciting driving challenges for the drivers, as he highlights the difficulties of getting turn seven, the corner that winds its way around the fake yacht marina, is “key” for a good lap:
“I think it's fun, it's a really unique and special track.
“There are a couple of tricky corners I've never seen, for example turn seven is completely blind, so it will make a difference.
“Especially if you nailed it, or missed the apex, I think it will be a big time difference. That corner, I think, will increase the chance of overtaking. I think that corner is going to be a key corner for this track.
“It's going be difficult to drive consistently every time. I don't think you can nail it every lap compared to other corners.”
“I think, if you have a good exit there, or if you had a good confidence into turn seven, it'll be good for overtakes.
“On the other side, if you are not good at turn seven, or if [someone] makes a mistake, easily you can overtake at turn 11.
“But still from turn 11 to 16 it's really tight corners, you don't lose much the downforce. So even if you don't overtake in Turn 11 still you can follow the cars, and you still have a chance to overtake in the second-to-last corner. So I can expect a lot of battling,” he said.
One of the more interesting challenges of the Miami track is its unique pit entrance, which features a tight chicane just before the white line, to ensure drivers do slow down. Tsunoda is satisfied with it, saying it makes it fairer and ensures all the drivers slow down correctly. He doesn’t think many mistakes will happen there, as it is better to push the boundaries on-track rather than off it, for him, at least:
“I like that it is there. It’s better than having only white lines. In terms of consistency, to make it more fair, I think it’s good thing to have. Of course, if you ride on the kerb too much, you just bounce out and you go over the white line and get a penalty. For me, it’s really tight, but just slow down.
“It depends on how you push the pit entry. It’s better to push in the track rather than outside track, so for me, I don’t think you’ll have many mistakes there,” he said.
The AlphaTauri driver also reflected on how trick it will be for the team to choose a good downforce level that works on all kinds of different challenging corners and long straights that present themselves on the circuit, and thinks it will be “interesting” to see the choices made by the teams:
“I think there’s one set of high speed corners, and then sector two is really tight, slow speed. With the setup you cannot focus too much on high speed or focus too much on slow speed, you have to stay in the middle. We need also to think about the straights, because (with) such long straights, I also think overtaking (will happen). It’ll be interesting.”
MotorLAT will bring you full coverage of the Miami GP, with exclusive interviews, insights and pictures, directly from the circuit!