Yuki Tsunoda heads into this weekend’s round at Suzuka as the home crowd star, as he is the sole Japanese driver in the 2023 Formula 1 field. The man from Japan spoke about how he loved the layout of the track, which is the one where he took his first podium in 2016, along with his surprise at the support for Formula 1 in Japan:
“The track layout is amazing. It’s my favourite track. So I’m just really looking forward to driving here on track. Seems to be good weather this week. So I can feel pure kind of performance, Formula 1 as performance, here in Suzuka especially in the first sector. You know, like, last chicane is a fast chicane and, you know, that’s kind of proper aerodynamic downforce corners.
“And yeah, also for the fans, as well. You know, like it’s really far away, normally, from Japan, to feel any kind of support exactly. You know, I didn’t expect… It’s always a surprise the amount of people supporting Formula 1, because, to be honest, it’s hard to know exactly the amount of people watching Formula 1 from Japan but yeah, even yesterday, even to two days before I went to Tokyo and did a couple of promotions and stuff and I saw lots of Formula 1 fans there and I feel I got a really warm welcome from them. So yeah, so it’s nice to be here and looking forward to it.”
Tsunoda then reflected on his time as a Formula 1 fan at the Suzuka:
“I think I was maybe 14, 13 years old. I think I remember when Seb was driving with Red Bull. I think that was the first time I came here, Still probably the engine sound was really loud. And so I remember I was wearing kind of earplugs. It’s incredible.
“For me, it’s the best place to watch Formula 1 from the outside, especially around Turn 1, Turn 2, even like first Sector. I can see the Formula 1 car going into the corners with a sparkling kind of a yellow spark. And I can see how fast they are. And I feel always impressed. Also Turn 7 and Turn 8, the Degner curves, that place is just incredible.”
The Japanese driver comes into his home round off the back of two very poor performances as he retired before the race started at Monza and went out on Lap 1, in Singapore, after contact with Sergio Perez, but he is still approaching this weekend in the same way he would normally:
“I just put down like just unfortunate, especially Monza was things I couldn’t really control. Singapore, obviously there was a bit of room to improve myself but also just didn’t work out in the end, just things that also happened that I cannot really control as well. So I just reset. I take it positive, just hopefully I digest every bad luck from there. And yeah, hopefully I can have a good race week here. So just reset and think positive.”
Finally, Tsunoda spoke about how the new updates to the AT02, combined with the Singapore circuit, gave Alpha Tauri a good car last time out, and how they would learn about the aerodynamics more this weekend:
“The car was good in Singapore. I think also the car itself, the characteristics of the Singapore track, anyway, was probably suiting us anyway. When we see Baku, normally we’re fast there, it’s a kind of a mechanical grip track and we’re quite fast.
“Here I think we can see proper aerodynamics, if we actually gain from the aerodynamic side from the car. So yeah, if we perform well, I’m quite, you know, optimistic for the second half of the season. But we’re expecting good performance here as well. So yeah, hopefully we can put it all together and aiming for good results.”