The hidden work that helped Tsunoda grab his F1 chance

Yuki Tsunoda may have expressed some regret about not embracing his love of motorsport earlier, but that hasn't stopped him making up lost time on his way to Formula 1

The hidden work that helped Tsunoda grab his F1 chance

The Japanese youngster is about to embark on his rookie F1 campaign with AlphaTauri after a pretty swift rise up the ranks.

But what has been especially impressive is how much he has matured and improved each season - and not been afraid to seek input from outside if he has felt he needed it.

His progress up until F2 had been slightly under the radar. For although he took a win in his first F3 season in 2019, and a triumph in the Euroformula Open Championship that same season, he did not feature much in the title battles.

But F2 in 2020 marked a step change in Tsunoda's progress, and it's something he puts down to channelling his focus in a bid to get better.

"Last year for me was a season in which I made a big improvement in all aspects of my job," he explains about the step up he made in his rookie F2 campaign.

"First of all, in terms of my driving but also in terms of my mentality and psychology regarding how I approached my racing. I think I improved a lot during Formula 2. It was a very successful season, one of the best in my racing career.

"At the start of the season, I already had a good pace and could compete with strong rivals, but I lacked consistency until the middle of the season. That meant I was unable to get good points in the early races.

"Then, from the mid-season on, I worked with a psychological trainer and we talked a lot about my racing - how I prepare for the race and my attitude during the race - as well as other factors. That resulted in my mentality improving a lot.

"By the end of the season, it was not yet where I wanted to be, but had improved so much since the start of the season. My on-track results continued to get better."

Tsunoda certainly seems to be someone who is open-minded and willing to listen, rather than thinking he knows everything from the off.

He cites the progress he made with better understanding tyre management as a key example of where he had to make some extra effort to step up his game.

"At the start of last year - during the rookie test for example - I struggled with tyre management compared to my team-mates," he said.

"However I have worked hard with the team and watched races from previous seasons to learn how to better manage this. The hard work we all put in paid off, as by the end of the year I had received the Pirelli award - which showed just how much progress I had made."

Even going back to his karting career Tsunoda talks of the advice he got from his dad as he started out racing properly for the first time.

"My father was my mechanic until I was around 14 or 15 years old," he said. "I have to thank him for all the success I have so far - he has helped me to become a better driver.

"Braking was one thing he taught me the most, particularly how and when to brake. He taught me that braking is very important going into the corner and that can make the car rotate. And if you can rotate the car more than others, you can apply the throttle again earlier than others. I practiced that a lot in karting. It gave me a lot of confidence and I still use what I learned even today."

But there is one area where Tsunoda will not change his approach no matter how much people try to convince him. That is his reluctance to get involved in sim-racing.

"I like shooting games - such as Apex Legends and Call of Duty - and sometimes when I'm playing them, I imagine shooting at someone I hate... it works well, it boosts me!" he said.

"I find that sport and gaming help me to reset my mind and I feel refreshed afterwards. However, I don't like racing games, as I don't find them realistic."

shares
comments
How F1 navigated the true costs of COVID-19
Previous article

How F1 navigated the true costs of COVID-19

Next article

Brown: New era of F1 rules plays to McLaren's "sweet spot"

Brown: New era of F1 rules plays to McLaren's "sweet spot"
The five factors behind Sainz winning a British GP he’d twice lost Plus

The five factors behind Sainz winning a British GP he’d twice lost

Formula 1 has a newest race winner, in a grand prix the victor appeared to have lost twice, only to charge back to headline a sensational and dramatic British Grand Prix. From a massive start crash to a late sprint finish, here’s how five factors saw Carlos Sainz take his maiden grand prix win

Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga Plus

Why there was no case to answer in Aston’s latest F1 copycat saga

The appearance of a revised Aston Martin in Spain caused controversy but PAT SYMONDS explains why the FIA investigation found the Silverstone team had no case to answer

Formula 1
Jul 3, 2022
Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone Plus

Why it's Red Bull that really leads a three-way fight so far at Silverstone

After a slow start to Friday at Silverstone, all the Formula 1 teams had to effectively cram in a day’s worth of practice into one hour. But there was still plenty to learn and while Ferrari topped the times, a three-way battle is brewing ahead of the British Grand Prix

Formula 1
Jul 2, 2022
Why the future is bright for the British GP Plus

Why the future is bright for the British GP

It wasn’t so long ago the situation looked bleak at Silverstone with the future of the British Grand Prix under threat. But a transformation has seen it restored to one of the most important races on the Formula 1 calendar, with bigger and better to come

Formula 1
Jul 1, 2022
Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone? Plus

Could mixed fortunes for F1's leading Brits turn around at Silverstone?

For the first time in many years, none of the local racers starts among the favourites for the British Grand Prix. But George Russell, Lewis Hamilton and Lando Norris could have reasons for optimism

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why F1’s champion isn’t fazed by Silverstone return

Max Verstappen is the world’s number one racing driver… and he’s determined to keep it that way. Speaking exclusively to GP Racing's OLEG KARPOV, the Red Bull driver explains why he’s relishing the 2022 championship battle with Charles Leclerc – and why he’s not worried about returning to Silverstone, the scene of the biggest accident of his career last year

Formula 1
Jun 30, 2022
Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team Plus

Why Red Bull’s RB17 hypercar can help its F1 team

On Tuesday, Red Bull laid out its plans to develop and build a new hypercar - the RB17 - penned by Adrian Newey. As the project itself sates Newey as a creative outlet, it also offers Red Bull's Formula 1 team a number of new and exciting avenues to pursue

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022
What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone Plus

What to expect from Mercedes as F1 returns to Silverstone

OPINION: The British Grand Prix is a home event for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, with their Mercedes team based just a few miles away too. But there’s another reason why the Silver Arrows squad is eager to arrive at Silverstone this weekend, which may help it fix its remaining problems with its 2022 Formula 1 challenger

Formula 1
Jun 29, 2022