The United States Grand Prix, according to Yuki Tsunoda, was the best race of his Formula One rookie season with AlphaTauri thus far.
Behind the eight cars from the Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, and McLaren teams, the Japanese driver qualified 10th and finished ninth in Austin. Along with Carlos Sainz, he was one of only two drivers to qualify and start on the unfavourable soft tyres.
It was his first top-ten finish since finishing sixth in the Hungarian Grand Prix.
“It was a good step,” he said. “Long time no points, and I think from especially Turkey I had a quite good progress, and in the end in Turkey I had a big mistake, but I improved those things and brought the car back at home.
“I was quite consistent, and also I think the best race I did in the season so far, even with this difficult situation.
“I think I need lots of space, I have to learn, so just keep pushing and having more consistent points.”
After a strong start at COTA, he spent the early stages of the race battling Valtteri Bottas’ Mercedes, after temporarily leading Lewis Hamilton in Turkey.
“Normally I lose quite a lot positions on the first lap,” he said. “And this time I gained a couple of positions, went a little bit more aggressive compared to other rounds, and it was okay, so I’ll just keep doing like this.
“I’m happy, especially as my teammate had an unfortunate retirement and [I was] more responsible for scoring points, especially when we think about the team championship. Even small points in the end can be big thing, so I’m happy with what I did.
“It was not easy, definitely. I really struggled for the rear in high speed understeer, but in the end, communicating with engineers to try to recover with the switches, I managed to bring it back home. I think we did even good step for the communication between my engineers and me.”
Tsunoda added that he knows where he can improve for the next race.
“I think also I need to dial up a little bit from the FP1, I was going P18, P18, FP1, FP2, which sometimes makes the engineers or team having question marks to me.
“And I have to a little bit think about strategy in qualifying, so I have to little bit improve those things especially from the next round. I will focus on those things from next time.”
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