RACE DEBRIEF

    Yuki Tsunoda was left with a feeling of what might have been following the Japanese Grand Prix as the home favourite’s ninth-place starting position turned into 12th at the chequered flag.

    Tsunoda and new team mate Liam Lawson ran inside the points-paying places in the opening exchanges of Sunday’s race but dropped down the order as various tyre strategies played out.

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    At the end of it all, Lawson came home 11th as the first of the lapped runners, with Tsunoda one spot behind, meaning AlphaTauri remain at the foot of the constructors’ standings on five points.

    Reflecting on his home race, Tsunoda commented: “It’s frustrating because there was pace today, but I didn’t have the opportunity to maximise it.

    Race Highlights: 2023 Japanese Grand Prix

    “On this track, it’s hard to follow because the tyres overheat very easily and I feel like we pitted for the hard compound too late, so I was behind everyone and had to catch up to the pack.

    “I think there was no chance to catch P10 today. It’s a shame that I wasn’t able to perform well and get a good result in front of the Japanese fans, but I got a lot of energy from them so thank you to all the fans. In the end, it is what it is.”

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    Asked if he would have liked the team to intervene and move Lawson aside late on, giving him a chance of catching the Alpines ahead on his slightly fresher tyres, Tsunoda added: “At least I would try, but they decided, so I cannot do anything. I tried to overtake, but with this track, it overheats super-easy, so it’s quite tough to even follow.”

    AlphaTauri’s Chief Engineer, Jonathan Eddolls, offered some more insight into where the team lost out with strategy and how they plan to fight back over the final six rounds of the campaign.

    Tsunoda frustrated he was unable to use his pace after being stuck in traffic in home race

    “Our main issue was the pace of the medium compound in the middle stint,” he said. “We had high degradation, and this was where the damage was done. This will be the main focus of the post-race work, as other teams were able to make it work.

    “Our pace on the hard compound at the end was competitive, but by this stage, we had already lost out to the two Alpines, ending up with both cars just outside the points.

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    “Although we lost some positions in the race, there are some positive signs from the weekend. The package is working as demonstrated by the good qualifying performance and the pace in the race, which has taken a step forward compared to before.

    “We are continuing to develop the car, and we’re so close to being able to score points on merit, so we’ll keep fighting to the end of the season.”