Tsunoda wants answers over AlphaTauri issues as Lawson frustrated not to ‘go out on a high’ in Qatar
Yuki Tsunoda and Liam Lawson shared similar feelings at the end of the Qatar Grand Prix, with the AlphaTauri pair describing a “tough” race after coming home a lap down as two of the final three cars to cross the finish line.
In a hot and humid encounter which featured more pit stops than usual due to tyre-related safety measures, Tsunoda and Lawson both briefly held points-paying positions but fell to the rear of the field as the various strategies played out.
At the end of it all, Tsunoda took the chequered flag in 15th position, with Lawson placing 17th and last behind the Haas of Nico Hulkenberg, meaning AlphaTauri remain at the foot of the F1 constructors’ standings with five races to run.
Reflecting on his race, Tsunoda said: “The start was good, it was smooth and I was in the points. But it was pretty tough in general and we didn’t have pace at all through the run.
“It’s hard to say where we’re losing because inside the car it feels okay, the balance itself, but we’re just not fast enough. We have to see what we can improve and work on the future.”
Pushed on where he was struggling in particular, and whether the tyres were a key factor, he added: “First of all, I think the tyre itself, we had a good advantage, so it’s just pace.
“We’re losing too much in the straights, but it’s hard to decrease the downforce because we’re already kind of on the edge with the grip level. It’s not an easy issue to improve.”
Tsunoda’s comments were backed up by Lawson, who was one of a handful of drivers to pit under the early Safety Car for fresh tyres in a bid to “try something” on strategy.
“It’s always harder when you’re struggling with the car and you’re basically having to work overtime to try and extract pace, so it was very, very tough,” the New Zealander explained of his evening at the wheel.
“We were managing a few issues as well. It’s something we have to look more into to figure out exactly what was going on, but it was stability issues, trying to manage the rear-end. When it’s a hot race like that it makes it even more tough, so it’s difficult.”
Lawson was also asked to reflect on his whirlwind five-race run for AlphaTauri as a whole, with regular driver Daniel Ricciardo set to return to action at the United States Grand Prix weekend in Austin.
“Up until this weekend it was really, really good,” he said, having scored points in Singapore and been close to the top 10 in Italy and Japan. “It’s a real shame to step back after a race like that, obviously you want to go out on a high. It’s tricky, so we need to look into it.”