Yuki Tsunoda has admitted to being “worried” about the sprint qualifying format in his rookie year.
The Japanese driver joined Formula 1 in the same season the qualifying shake-up took place and appeared to struggle in the format, finishing no higher than 15th in any of the three sprint events.
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix this weekend is the first sprint event of the 2022 season and Tsunoda says he feels more confident this time around.
“This will be an interesting weekend at what is a home track for us and we will also have the sprint format for the first time this season,” said the 21-year-old.
“Last year, I was worried about sprint qualifying with only having one practice session before qualifying, but this season I feel much more confident.
“Also because Imola is a track I know well as I have driven a lot of laps there. Also, I now know how to approach the sprint weekends and hopefully it will end in points for us.”
Tsunoda is 13th in the Drivers’ standings having earned only four points in the opening three races. He finished 15th last time out in Australia but said he was happy with how he had progressed over the week.
Very much enjoyed this track and with the fans pic.twitter.com/yPNpe5H7Tl
— 角田裕毅/Yuki Tsunoda (@yukitsunoda07) April 8, 2022
“I enjoyed visiting Australia, the atmosphere was very nice with its location near the sea, but on track it was a tough weekend and we struggled more than expected, particularly on the long runs,” he said.
“From my side, I was quite happy with how I progressed over the week, given it was a new track for me. Right from FP1 I felt confident, but in the race me and the team struggled a lot.
“We already knew the areas we needed to improve so we have been working hard to be better in time for Imola.”
Other teams have noted the potential damage the aggressive kerbs could do to the lower 2022 cars and Tsunoda said he expected the way drivers ride the kerbs to be different this year.
“The track is slightly narrower than previous ones we have raced on this year and it will be interesting to see what these new cars are like to drive there,” he said.
“I’d imagine the way you can ride the kerbs will be different this year and we will see how the car behaves in FP1 and then adapt quickly for qualifying. I think I am well prepared with the driving I have done there in the past and the simulator session I did last week.
“I’ve been living in Italy for a while now, so this will definitely feel like a home race – especially as I can stay in my own house every night, which is close to the track and nicer than being in a hotel.
“It will be a bit strange but I think it will be a more comfortable arrangement, allowing me to concentrate on the race.”