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"Strange" feeling on medium tyres cost Tsunoda Q3 place in Bahrain

AlphaTauri Formula 1 rookie Yuki Tsunoda says a "strange" feeling on the medium compound tyre during Q2 prevented him from qualifying in the top 10 for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

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The 20-year-old Japanese was a stunning second fastest in Q1 on soft tyres, behind only eventual poleman Max Verstappen, but he struggled in Q2 as AlphaTauri attempted to get Tsunoda and team-mate Pierre Gasly through to the top 10 shootout on the medium C3 tyres.

But while Gasly clocked the eighth fastest time in Q3, F2 graduate Tsunoda struggled to 13th and reported that "it's not acceptable for me how low is the grip especially after the wear of the C3".

When asked if he regretted not using the C4 soft tyres for his final Q2 run, Tsunoda replied: "For me always when I use the soft it always works properly and the car feels okay, especially in this session.

"C3 feels completely strange, especially the second set of new tyres. Even for me, with another push lap, I don't think I could go through with C3 – there was just not grip at all.

"We'll have to see if there's an issue or not. Q1 was amazing and Q2 suddenly goes really bad."

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Tsunoda conceded that the experience had been valuable for his learning process and said he plans to work on his traffic management during the busy closing stages of Q2.

"For the learning side, I think it was really good," he said. "I think there was a lot of learning I got from this qualifying.

"There is still a lot of space to improve so I'll just prepare to do better in Imola.

"I would say how I approached the qualifying and every Q1, Q2, was okay, just maybe today there was a lot of traffic before the lap, like I had to wait quite a lot.

"So maybe I have to see for traffic management and also how to adapt more to the C3 tyres from the C4, for me it's just that."

Gasly said that Tsunoda was "doing a good job" in the team and had impressed with his speed.

"So far, a couple of mistakes here and there but when he managed to put things together he's really fast," he said.

"We managed to work very well so far this weekend."

Gasly admitted that the team hadn't expected to qualify so high up the order, eclipsing the team's previous best qualifying in Bahrain of sixth achieved by Daniel Ricciardo in 2012 and Gasly himself in 2018.

"We didn't expect it honestly," said the Frenchman.

"We knew we had a strong package, but to qualify in fifth position, especially to go through with the medium in Q2 is hopefully a good advantage for tomorrow, so a great start.

"The pressure was quite high. We talked to the guys before the qualifying and we knew there was a big risk, but we knew there was potentially a big reward for the first stint as well.

"We are pretty much in the mix."

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