RACE DEBRIEF

    AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda was trying to look at the positives in Mexico on Sunday, after he found himself an innocent victim of the first-corner melee at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.

    Starting 17th on the grid following engine-change penalties, Tsunoda was always going to find himself in the thick of the action through the opening turns.

    However, as the pack struggled to avoid the spinning Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas, the Japanese driver was tagged by Esteban Ocon’s Alpine – and launched into the air and out of the race.

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    “Such a shame,” said a frustrated Tsunoda. “We know that the car is good, so it was a big opportunity to score points, big points. Yeah, I think it was just unfortunate.”

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    The damage to Tsunoda's car was too severe for him to continue

    Coming upon the backwards Bottas, Ocon had been squeezed between Tsunoda on his left and Mick Schumacher on his right. With nowhere for the Frenchman to go, the resulting contact meant early retirement for both the AlphaTauri and the Haas.

    “The car next to me got sandwiched,” explained Tsunoda. “That car hit me at the back on the side, so just unfortunate. I couldn’t continue – the car got quite a lot of damage.”

    Up until that point, Tsunoda had been enjoying a strong outing in Mexico City, finishing eighth in Friday practice, and then making it into Q3 on Saturday to qualify ninth before his grid penalty.

    “Overall this weekend was really good, except the race – such a shame about the race,” he continued. “But overall I think it was a good step compared to previous races.”

    Yuki Tsonoda rues 'unfortunate' early exit in Mexico

    It was a sentiment echoed by team boss Franz Tost, who commented: “Yuki was a bit unfortunate today. He showed great pace across the weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing how he performs now for the rest of the season.

    “We hope we will not have any more penalties to take, meaning he should be in the top 10 and regularly scoring points in the remaining races.”

    That’s something the AlphaTauri certainly seems capable of – after Tsunoda’s retirement, team mate Pierre Gasly went on to finish fourth on Sunday for the Italian squad’s best-ever result in Mexico.

    READ MORE: Gasly hails ‘fantastic’ P4 in Mexico as AlphaTauri draw level with Alpine in constructors’