Yuki Tsunoda currently has a different mindset compared to two years ago. The AlphaTauri driver knows he has to work hard to help the team, as the Italian team has lost an experienced driver. It is therefore time for Tsunoda to prove himself, otherwise he could just lose his seat. Last year, the driver was also afraid that his contract would not be extended.
Tsunoda has often indicated in the past that he did not work hard enough for his seat in Formula 1. The driver was not a fan of working in the gym. My mindset when it comes to racing has changed a bit. It interests me more,” admits Tsunoda at The Race. “I also enjoy the sport much more than what I felt in previous years in my racing career. I know how much racing means to me, and also how much Formula 1 means to me, which I didn’t feel as strongly two years ago as I do now.”
Tsunoda: ‘Then you lose your seat’
In his first two years in Formula 1, the Japanese crashed several times. It was not clear for a while whether Tsunoda would also drive at AlphaTauri in 2023. “The team had not announced my contract and I myself did not know what the intention was. I literally had nothing under control. That’s why I didn’t feel well mentally. I didn’t sleep well most nights. That stress and fatigue didn’t help at all in the race. I don’t have to worry about that now.’
Franz Tost has always said that it takes a driver three seasons to get used to Formula 1. Tsunoda knows that it is make or break. “This is my third year and I could lose my seat if I kept doing what I did until last year. At every race last year I felt like I could have done more. And anything can happen, especially in the third year, and if you keep doing it like this, you’ll lose your seat.’
Tsunoda: ‘The team wants someone to trust’
In the winter, the AlphaTauri team lost the experienced Pierre Gasly. “The team wants someone to rely on. Especially since we are currently struggling with our performance. I don’t want the team to worry about the driver’s performance.” Tsunoda therefore wants to be the leader for the team. “They didn’t have to worry when Pierre was there. If Pierre had struggled as much as I did in 2021, I think the team would be in a much worse mood and negative energy,” said the AlphaTauri driver.