Tsunoda looking to 'do all I can' to gift Tost P7 in the championship while Albon expects strong Williams in Abu Dhabi
Yuki Tsunoda is hopeful of giving departing AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost the “best gift” by beating Williams to seventh in the constructors’ championship – while Alex Albon is expecting a close battle between the teams in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Tsunoda showed a good turn of pace throughout qualifying as he was third fastest in Q1 behind only Max Verstappen and Albon before placing eighth at the end of Q2.
He continued to impress in Q3 as he went up to sixth on his first lap and, while his final attempt of the evening was good enough for seventh, he was promoted up the order after Sergio Perez’s time was deleted.
Reflecting on his performance, a delighted Tsunoda said: “Starting P6 is a great position. It won’t be easy because there are a couple of fast cars behind. Obviously, we have to put it all really, really together. So far, the team did a fantastic job.
“It wasn’t easy yesterday we struggled a lot, so made it a lot better overnight and the car felt really, really good. So, [we will] see how it goes tomorrow. Anything can happen, especially the degradation seems quite higher than expected, so see how it goes.”
Sixth place represents a career-best qualifying result for Tsunoda, and with AlphaTauri just seven points behind Williams, finishing in P6 coupled with a point-less outing for their rivals would give the Italian team seventh in the championship.
Tsunoda is hopeful of achieving this especially as he looks to give Team Principal Tost a fond farewell, as the Austrian brings his 17-year stint with the team to an end this weekend.
“Yeah 100 per cent,” said Tsunoda, when asked if he was looking to give Tost P7 as a gift. “So far hopefully he is happy. I think he is happy especially as tomorrow we are starting P6. And we know that we have to end up P6 and I think a P7 would be the best gift for him.
“It’s not impossible and I just want to see his happy face, especially as without him I would not be able to develop like this as a driver. So, I just want to appreciate him with the result. I’ll do all I can.”
Albon, on the other hand, could not quite translate his Q1 pace into Q2 as he went crashing out of qualifying in the second part of the evening and will start Sunday’s race from 14th – while his team mate Logan Sargeant will line up 20th.
“The track wasn’t really getting quicker and quicker throughout qualifying,” explained the Thai racer. “You could tell from Q1 run one that the grip was there on the track, and it never really changed.
“For me what’s frustrating is Q2 we were a tenth and a half slower than we were in Q1. We had a mis-shift in Turn 6, so I lost that time in that corner, but I couldn’t really go quicker than my Q1 lap. We often overheat our tyres and today was another case of that.”
Asked how he was feeling about the race, Albon replied: “Our race pace was okay, not bad at all. I think we have a good car. It’s strange, this weekend it feels like no-one’s slow – the AlphaTauri, the Alfa Romeo, the Haas, the whole grid is bunched up.
“And relatively we feel like we’ve got a strong race car considering, a normal weekend for us. But it seems like everyone else is also having a good time. Lap times are close, as you see. It’ll be a close race tomorrow, I think.”