Tsunoda “wouldn’t sleep” if he hadn’t attacked Stroll on last lap

AlphaTauri Formula 1 rookie Yuki Tsunoda says he wouldn’t have been able to sleep on Sunday night if he hadn’t launched a last lap attack on Lance Stroll at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR21, passes Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02

The Japanese driver already had a debut point for 10th place in his pocket, but he showed that he already means business by stealing ninth place from Stroll at the start of the final lap.

Tsunoda had been frustrated in qualifying, starting only 13th after struggling on the medium tyres in Q2, while his team mate Pierre Gasly ultimately earned fifth.

He then lost a couple of places on his first F1 start after taking what he admitted was too cautious an approach, and not optimising his positioning around the early part of the lap.

“The last stint I think was the best one for me, also in tyre management,” he said. “I think for me it was a good pace compared to the other two stints.

“I passed Stroll at the last lap in the first corner. It was a really late launch, but I decided that if I couldn’t overtake him, I can’t sleep all night tonight!

“So I struggled really the last two laps, especially in dirty air from him. I did quite a lot of mistakes. So I’m really glad to pass him in the last lap.

“Happy, but also a bit disappointed I think, especially because I thought I lost too many positions in the first lap. Also it took time to recover the positions.”

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Asked if he could really been disappointed given his solid result he made it clear how ambitious he is.

“Yeah, maybe I’m aiming too high, maybe before this race! But for me I just saw that my teammate was doing a better job in the qualifying, and I was aiming for there, so of course I’m not a hundred percent happy.

“But like I say, I’m happy to get points first race, because that is a really positive thing for the team. So I’m not really disappointed. But I would say that I’ve learned a lot of things in this race, obviously.”

Asked by Autosport to expand on those lessons he said: “I think the most thing is the positioning for the first lap, especially like after the start. I was too cautious to not have any damage.

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“I knew that the car is there, and the car had a good pace, but I decided I just had to be really cautious to not have any damage on the first lap. And also positioning the car, the start was really poor. So I think those things.”

Tsunoda also acknowledged that it was special to have a battle at one stage with former World Champion Fernando Alonso.

“A little bit emotional this. Last time I saw [Alonso] was 12 years ago, 13 years ago, I saw him in Fuji Speedway, when he was driving in F1 in Renault, or I don’t know, McLaren. I’m really proud. Well, I was really happy that I got to fight him, but of course it’s not the same car.

“Happy to get the points in my first race for the team. And also the positive thing is that I’ve learned a lot of things during this race. So just do better for Imola next time.”

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