Tsunoda to change his qualifying approach in Portugal after 'two huge mistakes' at Imola

IMOLA, ITALY - APRIL 17: Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia AlphaTauri and Japan  during final practice ahead

Yuki Tsunoda said he needs to bounce back in Portugal and race without any mistakes after an incident-filled Grand Prix weekend at Imola last time out that left him 12th overall.

The Japanese rookie impressed on his F1 debut in Bahrain – even passing Fernando Alonso on track – to finish ninth from 13th, but at Imola he crashed out in Q1 and spun in the race on the way to a 12th-place finish. At Portimao, Tsunoda said it was a "shame" to have made those mistakes in Italy and vowed to make it up to his AlphaTauri team in Portugal - as he also revealed he will be changing his approach to qualifying.

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"Imola for me was a big week, especially for learning. I did a huge mistake, two huge mistakes in race week and, as a result, for the team also [that] was a really bad race week," he began. "I expect more high positions and also that was quite a big chance to score points so was a real shame, and I felt really sorry for the team. But as a driver, we’re learning, I learned a lot from Imola and Bahrain and I take it really positive for the future so it’s quite a mixed feeling.

"Also for me, I need a clean race for the team and I think for the work and for the championship and the team standings. The performance is there, I just have to put it all together and I will in the future," he added.

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Tsunoda took his first track walk of Portimao on Thursday and remarked that the elevation changes of this Portuguese venue were unexpected, and added that he anticipated a "difficult race week" having never raced at this circuit before.

"I did a couple of sim sessions which I normally do before the race week, and the track walk this morning," he said. "Lots of ups and down which I didn’t expect - huge difference. I’m really looking forward to it, driving tomorrow.

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"It’s going to be a difficult race week, as compared to Imola and Bahrain where I’ve already driven. I’ll just pick up the pace lap by lap and see what will happen."

And he added that his mistake in Q1 at Imola will lead him to change his approach for qualifying in Portugal – to avoid pushing too hard on a new set of tyres and crashing out.

IMOLA, ITALY - APRIL 18:  Pierre Gasly of France driving the (10) Scuderia AlphaTauri AT02 Honda

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"Expectation for me for this week is, to be honest, a little bit lower than Imola, just trying to pick up the pace from FP1, lap by lap and for qualifying I will say of course I have to change the approach especially from Imola.

"There was the pace to go through to Q2 easily for the car, and I just pushed like a Q3 second set of new tyres in Q1, so I’ll change [my] approach to qualifying," he said.

AlphaTauri head to the third round of the season fifth in the standings, already 26 points behind Ferrari, as they sit in the middle of a competitive midfield battle.

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