Yuki Tsunoda was happy to reward the “insane” amount of work put in by the AlphaTauri team with a P7 finish in their home race at Imola.
The Japanese driver was one of the outstanding performers in the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as he worked his way up five places from his grid position to add some valuable points to both his and the team’s tally.
Although at one point he was at the front of a DRS train, being challenged by Lance Stroll, Tsunoda found extra pace and passed both Kevin Magnussen’s Haas and then Sebastian Vettel in the other Aston Martin – the first of those moves eliciting a cry of “let’s go” from the 21-year-old over the team radio.
It was a rare weekend when Tsunoda outperformed his more experienced team-mate, Pierre Gasly – and he now has four more points than the Frenchman in this year’s championship.
The start to the season has not been a strong one for AlphaTauri, who are based only 10 miles from Imola. Naturally, there was a big turnout of their staff at the circuit, and Tsunoda was pleased to have given them something to cheer.
“The car was really good. We didn’t expect it that good, especially compared to Australia,” said Tsunoda, who previously this term had bemoaned a lack of pace from the AT03.
“We made really good progress through the week and I’m happy with what I did.
“My main goal was to try to achieve the points for the people from the factory who came [to Imola]. Also the people who were watching in the factory.
“The amount of work they did at the beginning of the season was insane, so I’m happy to say thank you with my driving – and we keep it like this.”
Speaking on Sky F1’s ‘Any Driven Monday’ programme, Tsunoda said he had even been prepared for the race to start behind the Safety Car – but the track eventually dried up enough for everyone to be on slick tyres by lap 20, after which no more rain fell.
“Before the race it rained quite hard and actually I was even expecting a Safety Car start,” said Tsunoda.
“This year I feel like it is harder to warm up the tyres. I was talking with Pierre and said I thought it would be a real struggle for all of the drivers to warm up the tyres, especially if it had been a Safety Car start.
“But it got dryer and dryer lap by lap and from lap 12 it started to get really dry.”