WATCH: Rookie Tsunoda snatches P9 on debut with last-lap pass of Stroll
He’s the 65th driver to score points on his debut and the first Japanese driver to register since the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix – but Yuki Tsunoda wasn’t overjoyed with ninth in his maiden race.
The diminutive AlphaTauri driver started 13th, dropped to 15th on the first lap but then battled his way into the points, first passing F1’s most experienced driver Kimi Raikkonen for P10 and then reeling in Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll before passing the Canadian emphatically on the last lap.
“I’m glad to get points,” he said afterwards. “I lost quite a lot of positions on the first lap. That was my big mistake and I had to recover from there. I’m happy 50 per cent, but still 50 per cent it was my big mistake.
“It was possible to go more forward for positions, so first points feel ok, but I think there was a lot of space to improve this race in Imola.”
But if he wasn’t exactly overjoyed to score his team’s first points of the year, with team mate Pierre Gasly a distant 17th after losing his front wing early on, Tsunoda was at least pleased with his fightback.
“The pace was good," he mused. "Last three laps I was behind Stroll and I got dirty air and really, really struggled to adapt to that dirty air and [made] quite a lot of mistakes. So last lap, first corner, there was still quite a big gap but I sent it. Glad that I passed him and happy for the first point.”
Tsunoda is the eighth Japanese driver to score points in F1, after Shinji Nakano, Ukyo Katayama, Aguri Suzuki, Kazuki Nakajimi, Satoru Nakajima, Takuma Sato and Kamui Kobayashi - who last scored at Sao Paolo in 2012.