'Fitter' Tsunoda set for very good season, predicts Tost

Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) AlphaTauri AT03. 10.04.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne
© XPB 

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost says that he's expecting a very good season from Yuki Tsunoda in 2022, after the Japanese driver had struggled in an inconsistent rookie campaign last year.

Tsunoda has previously admitted that he had underestimated the physical demands of moving up to Formula 1, and probably hadn't put in the full training effort that he needed to perform at his best.

But Tost felt that was a bit too self-critical, and that Tsunoda had actually been fitter and stronger than the driver himself had believed at the time.

"Yuki was not as bad in physical condition as he thinks," he told the media last week in Melbourne. "It's difficult to do physical training for a Formula 1 driver, the best training is always driving the car.

“Every driver thinks that he is not fit enough and then of course he has to increase his physical training," Tost continued. "He may have underestimated some training sessions which he should have done, but he did it and then he improved a lot.

“He took it seriously, he was training twice a day, he also had a lot of lessons with the engineers to learn the technical side," he insisted. “And Yuki improved a lot."

In some ways, Melbourne was back to his rookie days for Tsunoda as he'd never raced at the Albert Park circuit before, with the race absent from the calendar in 2021 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Franz Tost (AUT) AlphaTauri Team Principal in the FIA Press Conference. 09.04.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne

Tost said that his performance over the weekend had shown how much he had improved: "Although he is here for the first time, he showed a very good performance and he is on a very good path.

"He's absolutely on schedule and I expect a very good season, especially in the second half if we provide him with a fast and reliable car.”

the team has been struggling with reliability issues, despite Tsunoda finishing in the points in the season opener in Bahrain. He didn't make it to the grid in Jeddah, and was outside the top ten in Melbourne while his team mate Pierre Gasly crossed the line in ninth.

“There wasn’t any pace today," Tsunoda said afterwards. "We struggled for the whole race, so we need to work out why to avoid something like this happening again.

Yuki Tsunoda (JPN), Alpha Tauri  10.04.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne

"It was very difficult to keep up with other cars and stay in their DRS. We just lacked performance overall and I didn’t expect it to be that bad. It is what it is. We have to stay positive and work on improving for the next race.”

The team's technical director Jody Egginton said that Tsunoda "had a tough day struggling for pace" on both of the Pirelli compounds used in the race.

"We need to understand the factors behind this, as he was reasonably happy with his car during the Friday and Saturday sessions," Egginton acknowledged.

"We have a lot of work to do ahead of the next race, but at the same time we are looking forward to the challenge.”

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