Sports

Tsunoda surprised to get new contract as he ‘keeps crashing’

AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda was brutally honest about his 2022 contract extension, saying it surprised him due to the amount of times he’s crashed this season.

Tsunoda will continue racing alongside Pierre Gasly next season, the team confirmed this week.

The Japanese driver arrived in F1 with significant hype and has shown flashes of very exciting race craft, notably at his debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix. But the mistakes have been hard to ignore and while Gasly has been one of the standout performers of the season, scoring a podium at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Tsunoda has finished in the points just five times.

Speaking ahead of the Italian Grand Prix, Tsunoda was remarkably blunt about his season so far, saying Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko and AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost have already told him that erratic streak cannot continue.

“To be honest when I got asked last week, I knew already a little bit,” Tsunoda said. “I can’t say anything about next year’s contract but I’m really excited of course. The first half of the season was quite inconsistent, so also from my side, I was a bit surprised I’ll be staying for next year.”

When asked what he meant by surprised, Tsunoda said: “Because I just keep crashing and spend lots of money for the team [on repairs]…

“It’s not a good way to end the first half of the season, especially in Hungary I went onto the wall in FP1 and ruined the whole session, almost two sessions. I got asked by Franz [Tost] and Helmut [Marko] that I need a more consistent result for driving and more discipline in the sessions. I couldn’t improve fully in the first half of the season, that’s why.

“Also I was able to score points but Hungary was a bit lucky. So it was mixed feelings, sometimes doing well and sometimes not. So that’s why I would say it was surprising.”

The F1 season continues with the Italian Grand Prix this Sunday, live on ESPN2 at 8.55AM ET.

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