RACE DEBRIEF

    After a pair of eye-catching races for different reasons in Bahrain and Imola, Yuki Tsunoda had a more anonymous showing in Portugal - and admitted he doesn’t know why.

    The Japanese rookie has been one of the most exciting storylines at the start of the 2021 season, impressing in testing and picking up points on his debut in Bahrain, but then crashing in qualifying in Italy and failing to score after a spin in the race. In Portimao, Tsunoda had work to do from a starting position of 14th but that turned out to be a fair reflection of his pace as he actually finished one place lower in P15.

    “Yeah it was really tough, I don’t know what’s happened there but there was just no pace at all from the car,” Tsunoda said. “Struggling all race week with strange car balance. I don’t know what’s happened there but we just have to analyse the details of what’s happened and obviously make the car better for Barcelona.”

    READ MORE: How shrwed race craft and brilliant tyre management allowed Hamilton to snatch victory in Portugal

    While many drivers were complaining of how difficult Portimao was in terms of the track conditions and high winds, Tsunoda says that doesn’t excuse his relative lack of competitiveness.

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    Tsunoda struggled to get the best out of the car in Portimao, but can bounce back in Barcelona

    “To be honest it’s not just the wind, for everybody it’s the same conditions. Just been struggling all race week with an inconsistent car. It was really hard to drive so I will have to analyse the data for what happened there.”

    There was a little more of an explanation from Tsunoda’s team mate Pierre Gasly, who snuck 10th place from Carlos Sainz in the closing laps but reveals the limited pace was due to a weakness that AlphaTauri faces this year.

    READ MORE: 'We got it wrong with strategy' says Sainz as he misses out on points from P5 on the grid

    “It was the race we kind of expected,” Gasly said. “We finished pretty much where we expected - slightly better because I managed to pass Carlos at the end and get a point. Obviously it’s not much but clearly the maximum we could expect from this weekend.

    “It’s been a hard one, we struggled quite a lot on this track with all the low-speed corners. It’s an area we knew that we had to improve already since the winter test and now we have the proof that we are struggling compared to our main competitors. At least it gives us a clear direction of development."