AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda says he was “emotional” while overtaking two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso on his debut in Bahrain on Sunday.
On lap 27 of the 2021 season-opening grand prix, Tsunoda moved down the inside of Alonso at Turn 1 as he continued to recover from a poor start that saw him lose a handful of positions.
Tsunoda would go on to finish ninth in the race, becoming the first Japanese driver to score F1 points since Kamui Kobayashi in 2012.
“I’m really happy with that, I really enjoyed this race weekend from qualifying, especially Q1,” Tsunoda said while reflecting on his weekend with Sky F1.
“In Q2 I had a bit of a struggle with the Medium tyre, I couldn’t feel I was getting any grip from it, but in the race there were a lot of positive things, especially overtaking a lot of cars, good learnings.
“It was a bit emotional when I passed Fernando. [The] last time I saw him [was] 12 or 13 years ago, when I was seven or eight years old.
“Into Turn 1, I just trusted Fernando’s skills and just lunged it, you know [as] a rookie, I felt a bit sorry about it, but I just lunged it from pretty far away, so there were a few emotional things. Of course, it’s not the same car but I was happy [about] that.”
Tsunoda added that before completing his overtake, he learned how to manage his tyres by analysing Alonso’s car placement through the corners.
“I drove with him [for] a couple of laps and I learned from him how he managed the tyres on the corners, how he was driving every corner,” Tsunoda said.
“After I passed him, I tried to copy his driving [style] and a couple of corners were better [for] my car as well.
“Hopefully I don’t have to drive against him the next time, I want to be further ahead. The cars are different, the things I learn from him will be big for the future.”