F1 | US GP | Tsunoda on his P9: "We definitely needed the points", as Gasly says pace was "encouraging" before costly penalties
It was mixed emotions for the AlphaTauri drivers on Sunday. Yuki Tsunoda scored his first points in five months, while Pierre Gasly was left to lament a penalty.
Going into the weekend, Yuki Tsunoda was a driver who really wanted and needed to score some points.
He went and achieved it to bag his first since the Spanish Grand Prix back in May. As it stands, it will go down as a P9 finish thanks to Fernando Alonso’s penalty.
P9 finally back to the points! Enjoyed lots of overtaking and definitely it’s for Mr Mateschitz.— 角田裕毅/Yuki Tsunoda (@yukitsunoda07) October 24, 2022
Points looked extremely unlikely as he started P19 because of a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. However, a great opening lap moved him up five positions.
The 22-year-old had worked his way into the points by his second stint on the mediums.
“I started on the medium compound, and I would say the medium compound pace was amazing,” Tsunoda stated.
“I did not expect this much pace, and I overtook a lot of cars at the beginning.”
Tsunoda was not as happy with his pace on the hards following his second and final stop, but he managed to overtake Zhou Guanyu and Alex Albon in the closing stages to finish P10 on the road.
“Suddenly after I fitted the hard tyre, I struggled a little bit with the pace," he said.
“But I am really happy to score points in the end. Such a long time without scoring points. Super happy.
“One point [before Alonso’s penalty] is small but still big, because it’s such a tight midfield.
“We definitely needed the points, and it’s definitely positive I scored points. I am happy with it.
“Hopefully I can continue this momentum for the final three races.”
On the other side of the AlphaTauri garage, it was disappointment for Pierre Gasly.
Under green flag conditions prior to the first Safety Car to retrieve Valtteri Bottas' Alfa Romeo, he was having a terrific battle with Lando Norris for P8.
“I was fighting Lando. Until that point everything was great,” he said.
But his race was severely compromised in the end. He was handed a 5-second penalty for failing to stay within ten car lengths of the car in front under one of the Safety Car periods.
Gasly explained his side of it.
“I need to review the Safety Car, but I wasn’t trying to do anything smart or clever. Another weekend another penalty,” the 2023 Alpine driver stated.
“They are the referees. If they decide something you’ve just got to accept it.
“If the guy is going flat out in front of you as you brake to warm up the brakes, then suddenly you open massive gaps.
“At the end of the day it’s my fault. Then once we took the penalty under Safety Car, everybody bunched up. We lost 5/6 positions. From fighting Lando, we dropped to the back of the field.”
It could have still ended with a point had it not been for the fact he was awarded a 10-second penalty later in the race. The 5-second penalty was not fully served in the pits.
In spite of his frustration, Gasly was upbeat about his pace. Heading into the final three races, AlphaTauri are two points behind Haas in the battle for P8 in the Constructors' Championship.
“I was really enjoying [it]. The pace we showed today was really promising,” he said.
“I was P8 in front of Lando – I had a great battle with him. We were fighting with Vettel, so I think it was very encouraging.
“Then I got another penalty, so I had to stay behind Yuki to secure another point for the team. It could have been a much better afternoon.”