Yuki Tsunoda was feeling humble following his mammoth recovery effort in today’s Feature Race at Sakhir, saying that his drive from last to sixth was inspired by some words of reassurance from Carlin on Friday evening.
The title contender endured a torrid time of things in Qualifying on Friday when he spun out on his first flying lap and was forced to retire. This left the Carlin rookie downbeat and he thanked his team for picking him back up and motivating him ahead of the race today.
“The team gave me a really good car this weekend, it's just that I did a stupid mistake yesterday when I span,” he explained. “I kept the engine running but when I shifted down from second to first gear, it stopped immediately.
“The main reason for yesterday is that I span on my push lap and I was really sorry to Carlin, but they supported me. They kept telling me that I could do it, they said that it would be really hard but reassured me that I was really fast in the races and I trusted their words.
“I was aiming for P8 to get reverse grid pole, but I didn’t get any track time in Qualifying and I didn’t know what pace we had, so I had to trust the team and my driving. The first four or five laps I felt good pace and my tyres felt good, so I pushed until the end and took P6, which was really good.”
Tsunoda has enjoyed a stunning debut season in the top tier of junior motorsport, sitting third in the standings with two wins and three podiums, but the Red Bull junior said that he’s not been completely happy with certain aspects of his performances.
One area he’s been working on in particular is his braking, admitting that his confidence took a battering back in Spielberg when he collided with his teammate Jehan Daruvala. Following his performance on Saturday Tsunoda feels like he finally has his belief back.
“I think that the move on Marcus (Armstrong) in the final two laps was quite fun,” he recalled. “He looked far ahead of me at Turn 1, but I trusted my braking and made it happen.
“To be honest, I was a little bit worried about my braking still, after what happened in Austria when I hit my teammate in the braking zone at Turn 2. Since then, I have been a little bit worried and didn’t fully trust my braking.
“Today with Marcus, I tried to truly trust my braking again and I just sent it. I didn't lock up, and my braking feeling came back, so I was happy with that.”
Having secured P6 and retained third in the title fight, Tsunoda wants to reward his team for their efforts with a victory in the Sprint Race on Sunday.
“I really want to get P1 for the team. Yes, I got P6 today, but if I hadn't spun in Qualifying, then I think that the top three would have been possible. I want to thank the team with a good result tomorrow. My start today wasn't good, so I will look at the data later and try and find out what the problem was.”