Yuki Tsunoda had a solid F1 Bahrain GP where he scored his first points on debut, as he reflects on getting emotional when passing Fernando Alonso.
It almost got wrong for AlphaTauri’s Tsunoda at the start of F1 Bahrain GP, when he overshot his grid slot at the end of the first formation lap. He seemingly got confused as Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who was ahead of him, had to stop with an issue.
Tsunoda realised his mistake and quickly reversed his car, but the formation lap was aborted, which eventually saved him from a potential penalty. Apart from that and his eventual race start, those were the only low points for him in the 57-lap grand prix.
Taking it rather cautiously, Tsunoda lost few places at the start, but managed to fight back into the points in ninth after passing Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll on the final lap. It had several other fights, including the one with his ‘hero’ Alpine’s Alonso.
Post-race, the Japanese F1 racer reflected on getting emotional, fighting him. Tsunoda stated that his father is a huge fan of Alonso and his driving style. This got the AlphaTauri driver to follow his career, as well, and it was quite a moment to fight him on track.
Additionally, he even managed to learn some tricks during the race while following Alonso for few laps and then passing him – which he used later in the grand prix. “I am overall happy with the points, which is my first in F1 and also first for a Japanese on debut, I am really proud of that,” Tsunoda started, when speaking to Sky Sports.
“The start was disappointing, I was too cautious to not damage the car, and I lost quite a lot of positions. I had to make up a lot then and it took some time and also tyre performance. So, I won’t say it was 100 percent performance but I am happy for first points and really positive learning for future.
“I enjoyed the first week with qualifying, Q1 especially. In Q2, I struggled a bit on medium tyres, I couldn’t feel any grip on it and in the race, overtaking lot of cars was really a positive thing and good learning. I got a bit emotional while passing Fernando, though. The last time I saw Alonso racing was 13 years ago when I was 8 years old.
“In Turn 1, I trusted Alonso’s skills, so I just launched it like a rookie. I feel a bit sorry to launch it from quite far back, but it just felt a bit emotional. Of course we are not in same cars but I was happy for it. My father is a Fernando’s fan, especially his driving style. He likes how he drives, I think the first time my dad saw Fernando was in Suzuka and he said, his last corner, the acceleration in Suzuka, is the best driver on the grid.
“I was aiming to be like Fernando. I drove with him couple of laps and learn how he manages the tyres, how he drives every corner. After I passed him, I just tried to copy his driving and couple of corners was better, for my car as well,” summed up Tsunoda, before adding that he doesn’t wish to fight Alonso again – not because he is bad but due to car difference between Alpine and AlphaTauri.
“Hopefully, I don’t have to drive against him [in the season], because I want to be more forward in the start,” said Tsunoda. “I am not saying Fernando is bad, but our car situation is different to theirs. And certainly, the things I learnt from him will be useful in future.”
For Alonso, though, having fought against the likes of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz and Aston Martin pair of Stroll and Sebastian Vettel, his return F1 grand prix was undone by a sandwich wrapper, which got stuck in his brakes and overheated it.
Here’s video of Yuki Tsunoda passing Lance Stroll: https://www.formula1.com/en/video/2021/3/2021_Bahrain_Grand_Prix__Tsunoda_overtakes_Stroll_on_final_lap_.html
Here’s how F1 Bahrain GP panned out