Runner-up Tsunoda hails ‘great feeling’ of finishing on a high
AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda concluded the final day of testing in Bahrain as the second fastest driver, just 0.093s behind pace-setter Max Verstappen, proving not only his speed but also his remarkable ability to adapt to F1.
The 20-year-old was among the field’s most impressive runners on Sunday, in terms of both performance and assiduity as he raked up a massive 91 laps over the course of the afternoon, more than any other driver in the four-hour session.
Tsunoda was obviously delighted with his performance but vowed to keep his feet on the ground.
“Jumping out of the car in P2 today is a great feeling – of course you can’t get too ahead of yourself, as it’s only testing, but it’s great to finish the three days on a high,” he said.
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“I’ve learnt so much over the last few days and collected crucial data for the team that we’ll now go back and analyse ahead of the first race.”
The young Japanese charger said that kicking off his campaign in Bahrain in two weeks was undeniably an advantage for him as a rookie.
“I think for me it’s great that we’re returning here so soon for the start of the season as I’ve managed to complete a lot of running here now and understand the track well.
“We’ve had a few small teething problems but that’s exactly what you’d expect from testing – we’re here to work everything out so we have the best possible package available to us come race day.
“I’ll continue working hard over the next few weeks and I’m excited for it to start!”
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The cooler afternoon conditions allowed Tsunoda to outpace AlphaTauri teammate Pierre Gasly by over 1.7s, but the Frenchman exited testing confident that he had a competitive car in his hands.
“Preparing for the race, we know the car’s strengths and we know where we can still make some improvements,” he said.
“I feel confident in the car and I think we’re in a much better place than we were this time last year.
“I think we know where we’ll be fast, and we have understood how to work on the car further. I really hope we can be in the fight this season and get some good points.”
Gasly also highlighted the crucial step forward achieved by Honda’s new power unit.
“Honda have also done a great job with the Power Unit and so far, we’re really happy with it – it’s a strong step forward, compared to last year, and the reliability has been perfect all three days, which is really positive.
“I’m excited for us to get to qualifying at the Bahrain Grand Prix because I think that’s when we’ll really see what everyone can do.”
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