Heading into his second season, Yuki Tsunoda insists that has learned the lessons of the past, while teammate, Pierre Gasly intends to hit the ground running, aiming to build on his 2021 form.
In many ways, Yuki Tsunoda was one of the big disappointments of 2021. Coming into F1, he’d been sold, mainly by Honda, as Japan’s big thing, and his pre-season test pace seemed to bear that out.
A strong, point-scoring debut in Bahrain further suggested that we were witnessing something special until it all slowly began to unravel. Suddenly, the youngster had lost his pace, while he was all to often involved in needless incidents and crashes.
Team boss, Franz Tost, not one know for his patience, was swift to act, and among other things had Tsunoda move to Italy, close to the team’s Faenza base, where he could keen an eye on him and ensure he maintained a strict work ethic.
Heading into his second season, Tsunoda is confident that he has learned ffrom his devut season.
I have a much better understanding of what I have to do than I did a year ago,” he insists, “I know how to prepare in order to perform well.
“I know what my weak points are,” he continues, “and I have all of my experience from last year to build on.
“Last year if anything unexpected or unusual happened I could not adapt quickly enough to deal with the situation,” he admits, “which is why I struggled in a lot of races.
“I ended last year well, with fourth in Abu Dhabi,” he continues, “so I want to carry that momentum into 2022. I feel more pressure to perform now than I did last year but it’s a good pressure, which is motivation for me when I’m training.
“I want to improve my pace and the consistency in the way I drive,” he adds. “I know what I have to do to achieve that, if I can work the way I did at the last three or four races of last year then that will be a good way to start. It won’t be easy but I am confident that I can do it.”
Meanwhile, Pierre Gasly, who surely made rival team bosses sit up and take notice – if not Helmut Marko – aims to hit the ground running in Bahrain.
“My approach will be the same as the one I adopted last year,” says the Frenchman. “I will be trying to build on the run I had of very good results and to continue to be on top of my game with the car I have.
“I really hope that this is a year when I can fight at the very front, to finish regularly in the top five and even higher if the car is good enough for that.
“We must be prepared to deal with whatever situations arise,” he adds. “So, mentally, I’ve prepared myself to deal with any possible scenario and, personally, I will be pushing the team to always do its best.
“Last year we came very close to fifth place in the Constructors’ Championship and it would be super to achieve that this year. It’s too early to say if that will be possible but I will always give it my best shot and get the most out of our car.”
In terms of the rules overhaul, he says: “I think we will have to tackle it with an open mind, being ready for any eventuality. It’s a fresh start for all the teams, starting pretty much from zero as we are really looking at a clean sheet of paper scenario.
“It will be a big challenge for the teams to work out how to build the best car possible to comply with the new regulations. I hope that it works really well for us.
“I have no doubts about our team’s abilities and, as of now, they are quite pleased with the work they have done. Like everyone, they’ve been working on it for many months now, but it’s difficult to have an idea of what we can expect until the car goes out on track in Barcelona for the first time.
“Then we will get an idea of how the car behaves and how we look compared to the others. I’m sure this season will be full of surprises.”