Italy move has helped Tsunoda ‘establish a new baseline’ for F1 races

Formula 1 rookie Yuki Tsunoda believes his recent move to Italy enabled him to “establish a new baseline” for how he approaches races and ultimately benefited his performance at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Italy move has helped Tsunoda ‘establish a new baseline’ for F1 races

The AlphaTauri driver starred on his debut with an excellent run to P9 in Bahrain but went on to endure a string of difficult races in Italy, Portugal, Spain and Monaco that were hampered by mistakes.

Tsunoda’s struggles prompted Red Bull to ask the 21-year-old to relocate from Milton Keynes to move closer to AlphaTauri’s Faenza base and begin a new intense training regime aimed at better embedding him into the team. Tsunoda was informed of the decision two days after he crashed in practice for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Japanese racer bounced back with a convincing display in Baku as he claimed his first Q3 appearance of the season and followed that up with a strong drive to seventh in the race.

“Before Baku I had a couple of difficult race weekends, so the result there was a good feeling,” Tsunoda said. "Compared to previous races, my preparation was much better than normal and right from FP1, I felt ready.

“The week before Baku I moved to Italy, spending most of the time in the factory, studying our approach to race week and looking at previous issues with the car.

“We decided to take a little bit of a different approach to the race week and have more conversations and that worked well. In Qualifying I made Q3 for the first time and overall, I think we have established a new baseline for how to approach a race.

“The overall result was okay, I’m quite happy, even if it was a shame I lost a place after the restart.”

Italy move has helped Tsunoda ‘establish a new baseline’ for F1 races

And Tsunoda believes his move to Italy was justified by his performance in Baku.

“Since Azerbaijan I have been back in Italy,” he added. “The weather and the food are good, and I can spend more time in the factory talking to the engineers.

“To move to Italy was the right decision and something really positive for me, although it does mean I have to travel back to the UK for simulator sessions.”

Tsunoda hopes to carry his positive momentum into this weekend’s French Grand Prix, a circuit he has some knowledge of having previously raced there in Formula 3.

“I have raced in Paul Ricard twice before in Formula 3, which means it is a different situation after Portugal, Monaco and Baku which were all completely new to me, and that will be a positive factor,” he explained.

“Ricard will be different in a Formula 1 car and Sector 3 will be key to the lap, with tyre degradation maybe being an important factor. It’s quite a flat track and, unlike the last two races, there are no walls!

“There are very big run-off areas, so I don’t have to be as cautious in my approach as I find the limit. Set-up wise it will also be very different to Azerbaijan where our car worked really well, as there are no low speed right-angle corners. It is a completely different track in every way.

“I am looking forward to it and hope I can finish in the points again.”

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