AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda feels he is now on top of the weaknesses that held him back throughout his rookie Formula 1 season, which included underestimating the physical fitness required for the top level.
Tsunoda recently admitted that he realised he would not be fit enough for the step up to F1 from F2 "too late", and went on to endure a campaign littered with errors and crashes.
After being moved by Red Bull to Faenza, where AlphaTauri are based, Tsunoda made strides on and off the track under the watchful eye of veteran team boss Franz Tost, and says he is "much more prepared" for his sophomore season.
"My overall fitness improved a lot from last year and now, just before the start of the season, I feel very different," Tsunoda commented.
"Last year, I didn't expect anything and I wasn't fully in control of all the situations. Now I know much better what I have to do to improve myself.
"I have a clear target. I am more relaxed, I am happy and my mentality is good and ready for the first race."
Tsunoda knows what to expect during second F1 season
Tsunoda explained that he is taking a relaxed mindset into the new season, having been criticised for overdriving his car early in 2021, and also hopes to benefit from returning to circuits for a second time.
"It's true that I have to deliver more and reduce the number of mistakes I make compared to last year, but I don't feel any pressure," he said.
"I am convinced I can achieve that and I'm not worried about making mistakes. I am just focusing on developing the car through the season with the team and giving [the team] good feedback. I have the confidence to achieve those things now.
"I will know most of the circuits this time, apart from Singapore and Australia (returning races), and even though I have driven at Suzuka, it was in Formula 4, so 45 seconds per lap slower than an F1 car!"
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Where do AlphaTauri sit in the F1 pecking order?
Tsunoda's teammate, Pierre Gasly, explained in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com that he expects 2021's top teams to remain at the front this season, with AlphaTauri battling to move up the midfield.
Tsunoda added that he saw positive signs from the AT03 throughout testing, though stopped short of offering his own predictions.
"I think our car has potential, but after just six days of testing, we can't say where we are," he stated.
"We will see what happens in Bahrain, where we must just focus on ourselves.
"I finished ninth on my debut in Bahrain last year [and] we've just had three good days testing at the Sakhir track, so now I'm excited to see what we can do in the race there."
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