Monday, April 15, 2024

Yuki Tsunoda on Spa Point: “I’m happy I could extract and maximise the car’s performance”

Yuki Tsunoda was delighted to end his run of failing to score points by taking tenth place in the Belgian Grand Prix, his first top ten finish since the Azerbaijan Grand Prix in April.

The Scuderia AlphaTauri driver has shown some signs of good pace at times during the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season but has not had the car underneath him to break into the top ten, however, this all changed at Spa-Francorchamps when the team had one of their more competitive weekends.

Tsunoda, who did not enjoy his Sprint race on Saturday that saw him finish eighteenth and last of those who saw the chequered flag, was pleased to secure only AlphaTauri’s third point of a frustrating season on Sunday, and he feels it will give everyone confidence going into the summer break.

“The team did a fantastic job today; the car was flying and I’m happy to finish in the points before the summer break,” said Tsunoda.  “A huge well done to the entire team: the mechanics, people in Bicester and Faenza, and trackside engineers.

“It’s been a long time since I scored points, and I’ve been struggling in the last few races, so I’m very happy now. We were slightly lucky with a couple of cars retiring in front of us, but I felt really comfortable during the race.

“The car went naturally forward, and I was just managing my tyres. At one point there was some rain, but fortunately, it stopped quite quickly, and I could keep up the pace and drive consistently.

“After the horrible day I had yesterday, I didn’t want to take that feeling into the summer break, so I’m happy I could extract and maximise the car’s performance. I feel I could give back to the team, apologise to them, and give them a little bit of positive energy going into the break.

“Now I’ll rest as much as I can and prepare for the second half of the season.”

“I still felt there was a little missing, but we’ll figure it out” – Daniel Ricciardo

Team-mate Daniel Ricciardo was less fortunate, with the Australian finding himself compromised by his Qualifying position having had his best lap time deleted on Friday afternoon for exceeding track limits.

Having started down in nineteenth position, it was always going to be difficult for Ricciardo, in only his second race back after replacing Nyck de Vries, to score points, and being stuck in traffic for much of the day meant he could not better sixteenth at the chequered flag.

“Honestly, it was tough in traffic,” said Ricciardo.  “Maybe a race with more clear air could’ve been better, but in general I’m not convinced we had great pace today.

“It felt like we never got the peak out of the tyres, and we couldn’t generate enough grip in the second sector. When we were in clear air later in the race, I felt we were more competitive, but in traffic, it was definitely hard.

“The reality is, these were my first dry laps in this car on this track, and I don’t know this car that well yet, so I still felt there was a little missing, but we’ll figure it out.”

Ricciardo feels that he will improve as the season wears on as he gets used to AlphaTauri’s AT04, and he will be using the summer break to prepare for the remaining ten races of the season.

“Many are now looking forward to a well-deserved holiday, but the situation is slightly different for me as the break is a good chance for me to keep working behind the scenes,” he added.  

“After a few days off, I’ll spend time in the gym and use my days training, to be able to further improve on my race fitness.”

Daniel Ricciardo was stuck in traffic for much of the Belgian Grand Prix – Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images