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Tsunoda describes ‘incredibly special’ run to Q3 in front of home fans after penning new AlphaTauri deal

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Yuki Tsunoda expressed his gratitude to the home fans who cheered him on to a ninth-place grid slot for the Japanese Grand Prix, saying he’s “never felt that kind of support” before.

Fresh from being confirmed at AlphaTauri for another season, Tsunoda impressed in Saturday’s qualifying session at Suzuka, making it through to Q3 and edging out Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso.

READ MORE: Verstappen and Red Bull return to form as they charge to pole ahead of the McLarens at Suzuka

It marked Tsunoda’s first appearance in the pole position shootout since the Monaco round in May, with team mate Liam Lawson – covering for the injured Daniel Ricciardo – almost joining him after winding up 11th.

Qualifying Highlights: 2023 Japanese Grand Prix

Speaking post-qualifying, Tsunoda said: “It’s incredibly special to get through to Q3 at your home Grand Prix. The amount of support I felt in my final runs was great. I’ve never felt that kind of support from spectators. A big thank you to them, but an even bigger thanks to my team.

“It wasn’t easy because we struggled in free practice on Friday, but the team did an amazing job of finding improvements. The car was great and really fun to drive, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

READ MORE: Piastri and Norris hope to make Verstappen's life ‘difficult’ after qualifying second and third in Japan

Tsunoda added that the clear target for himself and stand-in team mate Lawson is to log a double points finish during the race and make progress in the constructors’ championship.

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Tsunoda had plenty to celebrate on Saturday with a contract renewal, Q3 outing and home support

“I haven’t raced with the new [update] package in Singapore, but Liam did a good job last weekend and performed nicely, so I’m not worried about the race,” he commented. “I’ll go out and enjoy tomorrow with all the fans.

“It will be tricky because tyre degradation seems to be a challenge here, but it’s the same for everyone, so let’s see what we can do. Liam and I are both starting in good positions, so hopefully, we’ll both be able to score points for the team.”

READ MORE: Hamilton admits gap to Verstappen and Red Bull is ‘definitely worrying’ for Mercedes after Japan qualifying

AlphaTauri sit at the foot of the standings heading into Sunday’s encounter, five points behind Alfa Romeo and a further two behind Haas.

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