Tsunoda surprised to keep AlphaTauri seat in 2022 after spate of crashes

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Yuki Tsunoda admits he was "surprised" to be confirmed at AlphaTauri next season after a "quite inconsistent" rookie year in Formula 1.

The Japanese driver made a big splash in Bahrain, recovering from a Q2 exit in qualifying to finish ninth in his debut race, leading Ross Brawn to call Tsunoda the "best F1 rookie in years".

However, since then, the 21-year-old has struggled to match teammate Pierre Gasly and found the barriers on multiple occasions.

“I'm really excited of course,” said Tsunoda of keeping his seat ahead of the Italian Grand Prix on Thursday.

Also Read:

“The first half of the season was quite inconsistent and also from my side so I was a bit surprised I'd be staying next year.

"First of all thanks to the team, and really excited for this opportunity again for next year and for this year, just learn as much as possible.”

Tsunoda has been working to try and calm down his approach in practice and then build up the pace in qualifying, with Red Bull seeing that as the best way to achieve optimal results.

But speaking on his struggles, Yuki admits he has never really recovered from his first setback in F1 when he crashed in qualifying at Imola.

“Especially in the first race, I didn't know what was going to happen in a Formula 1 race and I just fully sent it almost every session,” he explained.

“At that point, I felt really good, I was controlling the car quite good, and for me, I was feeling I was driving well at that point.

“Then from Imola especially, after a crash in qualifying, I lost the confidence or something like that.

“I started to [re-build] it, but after that, I kept doing mistakes every time, so I'd reset and rebuild confidence, and that made it a bit of a struggle.

“I didn't expect that much difficulty in Formula 1 because even in junior categories, I didn’t have a massive snap or went into the wall.

"I never had this much [loss of] confidence, so that's the main issue. So that's why I'm building up and trying to have more consistent laps, more consistent sessions."

After that impressive first race in Bahrain, Tsunoda also admits that perhaps the hype was too much.

“Also at the beginning of the season, the expectation was too high, and that's why I think, the first race went well but after that, it was getting confusing.

"That made a bad spiral, I think now for me it's okay. The last three races, I was not maybe performing well in qualifying but I think I started to get a little more learning about the car, so now it's okay and going well I think.”