RACE DEBRIEF

    Tsunoda sad to miss points on home soil – but pleased Japanese fans saw Verstappen’s coronation

    Yuki Tsunoda expressed mixed emotions after the Japanese Grand Prix, with the home favourite disappointed to miss out on a points finish at home, while also seeing the positives in Max Verstappen’s title win.

    Tsunoda, racing for Red Bull sister outfit AlphaTauri (both teams powered by Japanese manufacturer Honda), sat inside the top 10 positions when the race was red flagged two laps in, only to fall to 13th as the action resumed – eventually crossing the line in a train of cars that narrowly failed to score points.

    Reflecting on his first F1 race on home soil, Tsunoda said: “It’s been a difficult afternoon. I obviously wanted to finish in the points, so it’s a real shame that I wasn’t able to make it. I think that I did the best I could and extracted the most from the car, but the pace just wasn’t there.

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    “The whole weekend here has been so exciting still. I’ve really enjoyed my first experience of driving an F1 car round my home track and I want to say a huge thank you to all the fans that have come out to support both myself and the team, especially in these rainy conditions.”

    He added: “Also, big congrats to Max for winning the World Championship – it’s great that the Japanese fans have been able to witness that here!”

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    Tsunoda’s team mate Pierre Gasly was classified 18th and last following a penalty for speeding under red flag conditions, having pitted to change his front wing after collecting an advertising board flicked onto the track by Carlos Sainz’s crash.

    As one of a handful of drivers to take on two sets of intermediate tyres in the restarted encounter, Gasly reflected: “We wanted to try something different, however it’s very difficult to overtake on this track. We tried our best, but at the end it didn’t really work out for us. It’s a shame as it’s a special race weekend for us and Honda.”

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    Echoing Tsunoda’s sentiments, he continued: “At the same time, it’s great that Max has been able to win the championship. He has been incredible, winning consistently, and has always been performing at his best and has got everything to be world champion.

    “A massive congrats to him, to Red Bull and to Honda. It’s extra special to win the title here in Suzuka, so I’m really happy for them.”