Yuki Tsunoda became notorious last season for his amusing radio outbursts as he acclimatised to life in Formula 1 with AlphaTauri.
The 21-year-old was thrust head-first into the European scene in 2019 at just 18 years of age when he moved to Formula 3 having raced exclusively in Japan up to that point, and he took a victory in his debut season with Jenzer Motorsport, while finishing 11th at the infamous Macau race.
He then claimed three wins for Carlin in Formula 2 in 2020, finishing the season third behind Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott, earning him a move to the AlphaTauri team as a Honda-backed driver after an astonishingly fast ascension through the ranks.
Points and race wins were not the only things he picked up though. Moving straight from Japan and travelling around Europe with English-speaking mechanics, much of Tsunoda’s introduction to the English language involved colloquial and perhaps unsavoury language, quintessential of the banter between mechanics and engineers as they travel the world working on race cars.
This certainly translated to the Japanese driver’s first season last year, and his radio messages were more colourful than a rainbow clashing with the Northern Lights as he engaged in some fruity interactions with his engineer.
These frustrations derived from a lack of performance following his tremendous points-scoring start in Bahrain, but just three more points finishes would follow for the rest of the year, while team-mate Pierre Gasly managed 15 as well as a podium finish.
The 21-year-old described himself as “out of control” at times last year, but believes he has fixed that this season.
“I think [I’m] much more controlled, I would say, compared to last year,” he told RaicngNews365.com.
“Same time here last year, I was not fully in control. I didn’t know what I was doing, and every lap [I was] just pushing through the limit, and [that’s when] things happened.
“But actually, that makes me improve also. That was really good learning as a driver. After that, I went into a bad loop, but that makes good learning as well as a driver.
“[I was] able to [take] the next step, and that’s why [I was] able to score points today. I think, compared to last year, it’s a massive step, especially in the race pace.”
Team principal Franz Tost did not agree with Tsunoda’s assessment that he did not have a handle on himself, but did comment on the young racer’s radio chatter, affirming that “he can shout to himself.”
Tsunoda has little incongruity to honesty, and never seems to hold back when scolding himself. He said ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix that was simply “slow” in Australia when asked if there was an issue with the car.
We have heard less shouting on the airwaves from him thus far in 2022 and, after Tost told him to shout at himself, that’s exactly what he has been doing.
“I would say, [on the] radio, maybe I’m still shouting, [but I’m] just not pressing the radio ,” he added.
“This is a massive step, compared to last year. Still, I think [I] try to be more calm. I realised that there’s no point to shout in the radio.
“It’s better to tell the limitations specifically with a calm voice and to go the next step, so I think this was good.”
Tsunoda was moved to Faenza last year by Red Bull adviser Dr Helmut Marko to improve his focus, essentially making the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix one of two home races for him this year.
He performed exquisitely in Imola last month, out-performing Gasly on his way to a seventh-placed finish.