Tsunoda ‘really happy' to break points duck while Gasly laments penalty that drops him to P13 at COTA
Yuki Tsunoda was thrilled to be back in the top-10 after finishing the United States Grand Prix in a hard fought ninth place – while his team mate Pierre Gasly was left to bemoan a penalty that took him out of contention for a points finish.
Tsunoda started from the back of the grid – after taking a five-place grid penalty for changing his gearbox before the race – but made a fast start that saw him vault up to 14th by the end of Lap 1. The AlphaTauri driver then continued to make steady progress throughout the race, making it up to seventh in his second stint.
After pitting for the hard tyre for his final stint, the Japanese driver overtook Zhou Guanyu and Alex Albon to get up to 10th – before a late penalty for Fernando Alonso promoted him to ninth.
“It was a really, really hard race, but yeah, happy to be back in the top-10,” said Tsunoda. “It’s a shame that the last compound, was pretty much slower than I expected, but the stint with the medium tyre was positive.
“I would say I’m really happy and I would say mainly, I’m glad that I was able to score points and thanks to [Red Bull founder] Mr Mateschitz, who passed away yesterday, that we were able to bring him at least a little bit of positive and yeah, I’m pretty happy.”
Tsunoda was on a run of 12 races without a top-10 finish – having not scored a point since finishing 10th at the Spanish Grand Prix – and the AlphaTauri driver admitted the performance of the AT03 was a surprise to him.
“Yeah, it was really fun, until the second medium compound,” said Tsunoda. “But I think until then it was really enjoyable. I didn’t expect to be honest that much of pace. Definitely really positive that I was able to score points in the end, yes.”
On the other side of the AlphaTauri garage, it was a case of what might have been for Pierre Gasly. The French driver received a time penalty for falling too far back behind the Safety Car. To make matters worse, the stewards judged that this was not served properly in the pit lane, and he was handed an additional time penalty as a result. Speaking after coming home in 13th, Gasly felt he did not do much wrong.
“Honestly, I didn’t try and do anything clever or smart, I was just trying to warm my tyres and brakes,” Gasly said. “To be honest I’ve got no idea exactly why we took it, but the other referees decided and I accept it, but for sure today that cost us a point. I was fighting with Lando [Norris] and he finished P6 so it’s kind of… not great.”
When asked whether the pace of the car was a positive from the race, Gasly said: “It was great, honestly, I’ve enjoyed a lot the race, I had a great start, I was fighting like at the top of the midfield, I even at some point was in P7, P6, P7, so no, the pace was good, it was really enjoyable until the penalty.”
AlphaTauri now head to Mexico ninth in the constructors' standings, two points behind Haas in the championship.