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How Tsunoda is learning from Alonso

Now into his third season in F1, Yuki Tsunoda has taken inspiration from Fernando Alonso when it comes to improving his race craft.

Yuki Tsunoda has revealed that he has been taking inspiration from Fernando Alonso in order to develop his race craft. Tsunoda engaged in a close battle with Kevin Magnussen at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix and, while it was Magnussen who eventually stayed ahead, the Haas driver later praised Tsunoda's driving. The Japanese driver admits that he is still learning his race craft, but feels that watching how Alonso performs has proven helpful. "I learn a lot from other drivers, especially after I stepped up to Formula 1, especially from Fernando Alonso," Tsunoda told the Beyond The Grid podcast. "In Hungary 2021, when Lewis [Hamilton] tried to overtake me, obviously I tried everything I can to defend as much as possible, but he passed me after four laps. After Lewis passed me, Fernando was defending from Lewis, and I learned a lot from it."

Tsunoda on 'copying' Alonso

Tsunoda believes that looking at Alonso's style – particularly from the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix – has been beneficial in his own battles. "[I learned from his] car positioning and where he was trying to gain from Lewis before he got overtaken [in Hungary]," Tsunoda explained. "Lewis was in dirty air and the last corner of Hungary, it's really difficult to be as close as possible because it's a medium speed corner, so it wasn't easy for Lewis as well. "I think Fernando knew that and tried to maximise the last corner's performance and he gained as much as possible before the main straight. "So, I learned lots of things from him and there was another situation at the Turkey Grand Prix, where I had to defend from Lewis. I tried to copy Fernando as much as possible and I was able to defend from him for eight laps that time."

Racing Alonso 'incredible', says Tsunoda

Having been a fan of Alonso for some time, Tsunoda admits that he is still in disbelief at getting to race with the two-time World Champion on track. "I respect the other drivers obviously, but I’m a fan of Fernando because my dad loves Fernando," the AlphaTauri driver said. "When I went to the Suzuka Grand Prix when I was 12, my dad was saying that Fernando's driving out of the last corner was consistently close to the white line and he was nailing every lap. "Since then, I watched Fernando, and I still can't believe I’m racing with him. It's just incredible. I didn't expect at that point that I'd be racing with him in 13 years." Tsunoda was particularly star-struck when Alonso asked to do a helmet swap. "He's really friendly [in the drivers' briefings] and he's a really nice guy," the 22-year-old added. "I wanted to do a helmet swap since I became a Formula 1 driver, but I was too nervous to ask him to swap the helmets. One point, maybe last year, he actually said, 'Yuki, let’s do a helmet swap!' "Literally my brain blows up and I tried not to show my happiness fully in front of him. It feels a bit embarrassing, but yeah, in my heart I was just really happy and after that day I just called straight away to dad. "And I still can't believe I'm racing with him, just incredible."

RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying