Yuki Tsunoda opens up on his Formula 1 career almost ending

Yuki Tsunoda was criticised for making several errors during his rookie season in 2021, before showing substantial improvement last season.

AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda believes he’s now performing at a “completely different level” to what he was when he made his debut in 2021, with the Japanese driver having reached a pivotal moment in his Formula 1 career.

Tsunoda has been warned by team principal Franz Tost that he must score consistent points in 2023 and make Q3 several times, with the 22-year-old being about to enter his third campaign in F1.

Tost has always believed that a driver needs three seasons to adjust to the pinnacle of motorsport, meaning 2023 is Tsunoda’s time to show what he can truly do.

Failure to meet Tost’s targets this season will likely result in the Japanese driver’s career in F1 ending, highlighting how big a year this is for Tsunoda.

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For Tsunoda to achieve Tost’s targets, then, the Faenza-based team must offer him a strong package, something they failed to do last season.

Despite this, though, Tsunoda still performed better than he did in his rookie season, something he puts down to “two reasons”.

“Mainly, there were two reasons,” Tsunoda said.

“The first was my physical development, which I worked on a lot before the season began. That made a big difference to my physical condition in general, meaning that my concentration levels and performance improved in the races.

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“The second reason was that my level of confidence returned after I had lost some of it in my first F1 season and that had been my big limitation. I was able to rebuild that confidence little by little and especially in the last three races of 2021, after which I was able to build on that momentum in all the races last year.”

Tsunoda seemingly recognises how important 2023 is for him and how it could determine whether he’s on the grid next year.

As he enters the forthcoming campaign, he believes he’s “definitely more in control” than he was when he made his rookie appearance in 2021, as a result of having “underestimated” the demands of being an F1 driver.

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“I’m at a completely different level now, although I have still kept the good aspects of my first year,” Tsunoda said.

“I am definitely more in control and more involved with the team when it comes to the development of the car and I also act differently, having learned lots of things, not just when it comes to racing but also in my life away from the track.

“I had underestimated what was involved, but now I’ve figured out the things that are really important.”