Yuki Tsunoda believes his performance across the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend is proof that AlphaTauri’s decision to relocate him from the UK to Italy was correct.
Tsunoda opened his Formula 1 career in Bahrain with a ninth place finish, but struggled thereafter with several costly errors, failing to score across the following four events.
AlphaTauri took the decision to relocate him to Faenza, ahead of the race in Baku, in order for him to spend more time with his engineers.
In Baku the Japanese racer made it through to Q3 for the first time, qualifying eighth behind race winner Sergio Perez, and went on to secure seventh in the race, but had been running as high as sixth before the late restart.
He credited the move to Italy as part of the reason for that return to form.
“Since Azerbaijan I have been back in Italy. 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.
“Before Baku I had a couple of difficult race weekends, so the result there was a good feeling,” said the 21-year-old. “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 race result was okay, I’m quite happy, even if it was a shame I lost a place after the restart.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s French Grand Prix, Tsunoda is hopeful that having prior experience of the Paul Ricard circuit will further aid his performance.
“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.
“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 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.”