AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda reckons that this year’s car is an improvement on last season, but concedes that the team is nowhere near where it wants to be.
Tsunoda’s new team-mate Nyck de Vries managed 100 laps between them during the opening two practice sessions of the season on Friday, but neither managed a lap time good enough to make it into the top 10.
They were 18th and 19th in a tricky second session, so the 22-year-old recognises that the Red Bull junior side has some work to do.
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“Today was not the easiest day,” he said. “The performance itself so far doesn’t look good compared to other competitors. It’s not even close. Obviously, we don’t know what other teams are doing.
“It’s too far away compared to what we wanted so I don’t know if we can put it all together. The limitations are quite a lot but it’s hard to put it all together. That’s the kind of limitation we’re having.
“There’s still one free practice to go and I’m still feeling optimistic. There’s definitely a step forward compared to last year – a couple of places – so we just have to focus ourselves and see how it goes tomorrow in qualifying.”
Tsunoda is not too concerned about his car’s race pace but highlighted a need for improvement on push laps.
“On the long run, I was quicker than a couple of cars which is good,” he explained. “Like I said, I don’t know what they’re doing but it seems like maybe the long run is better than the performance run which is maybe good in Bahrain.
“But still, it’s performance where we’re too far away so obviously we still need to find a couple of tenths to get up to Q2 at least to be in the points in the race.”
De Vries, having competed in a Formula 1 FP2 session for the first time in his racing career, also noted that his team is “on the back foot” following day one, but he too remains optimistic.
“I think, overall, as a day, I’m pretty satisfied with the work we’ve done, the progress we made,” said the Dutchman. “Pleased on our side of the garage we made, yeah, I think good progress. The conditions from FP1 to FP2 are very different and I think we worked well as a team together.
“There is certainly a lot of work ahead of us and I think we are finding ourselves a little bit on the back foot. But I’m confident that, you know, we’ll stick together and continue to try and improve in the areas we believe we need to find performance.”