Franz Tost reiterates that youngsters need time to settle down in F1, even though Yuki Tsunoda was surprised about his retention.
It will be Tsunoda’s second season of F1 in 2022 after he was retained by AlphaTauri alongside Pierre Gasly. It has been a tough season in many ways as the Japanese has been involved in several accidents. Some are not entirely his fault, but mistakes are common place considering he is a rookie in the sport.
Knowing how Red Bull handles its juniors, some were surprised about an early decision, even Tsunoda himself. However, AlphaTauri chief Tost was frank, honest and fair in his judgement of the Japanese on this season and rather “pro” on signing him for a second season, as he will only learn more.
Tost, though, agrees that Tsunoda will have to tone down his incidents, especially now that he has half a year in his kitty. “For me, personally, not, because nowadays if you bring a rookie into Formula 1 you must give him time,” he said. “Formula 1 is really so complex, is so difficult that you can’t expect a young guy coming, showing to the experienced drivers where to go. No. Yuki, so far has done a reasonably good job.
“He was fast, he finished in Budapest on the sixth position and his first race he was ninth in Bahrain. Of course he had some crashes but I always say the crash period is part of the education process, how will someone find the limit if he’s not allowed to crash. Now I hope that this crash period is finished now. We are looking forward to the second half of the season although it will not become an easy one because all these young drivers don’t know either America or Mexico nor Sao Paulo, nor Turkey.
“Saudi Arabia no one knows which means that there’s a lot of work in front of us to bring him on a good level but, beside Pierre Gasly, who is one of the fastest drivers in Formula 1 nowadays, he can learn a lot, he can compare the data and with his skills, I think that he will close this gap and I’m looking forward to this driver line-up next year when we will have a new car, so at least we will have a constant and that’s important for us,” summed up Tost.
For Tsunoda himself, even though it has been a little trying at times, it is a good feather in his cap to be confirmed this early for 2022. AlphaTauri trust him and have confidence in him. Also, from a continuity viewpoint it should also help the team in 2022 and Tost also is in strong agreement on this.
“Of course this helps, because he knows he’s with the team and as I’ve already mentioned before the second half of the season will not become so easy as he will be on race tracks that he doesn’t know but nevertheless he is improving his performance, he’s doing a good job and therefore, parallel to this, he will also improve his self-confidence and of course, if you crash with a Formula 1 car, at higher speeds, it’s not an easy one just to take it away but I think that Yuki has the nature to get back his self-confidence the more laps that’s doing, the better it will be,” said Tost.
In the past, some teams have released a driver after one season because they did not cut the mustard however in this instance, AlphaTauri have seen something. Tough debut year for Tsunoda, but his result in Hungary and his race debut 9th place at Bahrain shows he has something. Despite this however, the Japanese is/was a touch surprised as in all honesty due to his errors, he did not expect to stay.
“To be honest when I got asked the week before the announcement, I knew already a little bit,” said Tsunoda. “I can’t say anything about next year’s contract but I’m really excited of course. The first half of the season was quite inconsistent, so also from my side, I was a bit surprised I’ll be staying for next year. First of all thanks to the team and I’m really excited again for this opportunity next year. Just for this year I will learn as much as possible.”
In all fairness, Tsunoda’s honesty is admirable in one so young. He is possibly being too hard on himself. When asked why he was surprised about it, the Japanese had a simple answer of crashing too many times. “Because I just keep crashing and spend lots of money for the team,” he said. “It’s not a good way to end the first half of the season, especially in Hungary I went onto the wall in FP1 and ruined the whole session, almost two sessions.
“I got asked by Franz Tost and Helmut Marko, that I need a more consistent result for driving and more discipline in the sessions. I couldn’t improve fully in the first half of the season. Also I was able to score points but Hungary was a bit lucky. So it was mixed feelings, sometimes doing well and sometimes not.
“So that’s why I would say it was surprising. But my target is clear for next year. At the moment, I’m focused on this year. Of course next year I have to be more consistent and have to perform well, scoring points. But we can’t expect anything for next year, it’s a completely new car, anything can change. Just want to focus on the rest of the season and fight for the points in the championship,” summed up Tsunoda.
The Japanese might be just 21-years, but knows exactly what is wanted of him for the remainder of 2021. The fact that he is being retained is a major positive and will help his confidence no end. Coupled with the maturity that his team-mate PGasly has been showing this year, the future looks bright for them.
The story was written by Neil Farrell
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