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Tsunoda has driven '10,000 laps' or more at Japanese GP venue Suzuka

Yuki Tsunoda will take part in his first Japanese Grand Prix - and is looking forward to familiar surroundings at Suzuka

Yuki Tsunoda says he has probably driven more than "10,000" laps of Suzuka as he prepares for a maiden Japanese Grand Prix. Tsunoda debuted as a rookie in 2021, but for a second year, the race was called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic - only due to return this weekend after a three-year hiatus. The Japanese racer will become the first home driver to compete in the event since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014 - and believes his prior experience of racing at Honda's home track will prove invaluable in getting up to speed.

10,000 laps of Suzuka

Tsunoda, who will be kept on for a third season at AlphaTauri in 2023, has endured a tricky second season with the team with its uncompetitive AT03 machine. His best result of the campaign is a seventh at Imola - while he has not troubled the points scorers since 10th in May's Spanish Grand Prix. Despite the poor run of form - which has left AlphaTauri ninth in the Constructors', Tsunoda is confident he can put on a solid performance at a track he knows well. "I drove a Formula 4 car, I think it was four years ago," Tsunoda explained to media when asked about his time spent in the Suzuka Racing School. " I was driving here and last time in Suzuka I won – so it’s good memories, definitely it’s a good way to be here at Suzuka. "I was driving in 2m06s – 2m07s, so it’s like 40s difference [to F1 cars.] "So it's a lot of difference, and even in the simulator I felt like a lot of things going on fast, much faster than when I used to drive. "I've been driving here since from 2016, and I drove here more than 10,000 laps or whatever, so I’ve learned a lot of tricks – but at the same time, like it's a lot different when I drive an F1 car. "So, I need a good build-up but still, I think [Suzuka is] one of the best tracks in my experience.

Tsunoda on Suzuka memories

Tsunoda will try to emulate compatriots Kobayashi and Aguri Suzuki in claiming a podium in their home Grand Prix, but when asked if he remembers the former's iconic 2012 rostrum visit, he picks out another race. "I think like the first time I watched probably [watched F1 at Suzuka] was the one when Seb[astian Vettel] got P1 in the championship with Red Bull [in 2011.] "I think I was watching at the entry to Turn 1, I still remember the cars entering with lots of sparks. "That was the first time I had watched Formula 1 since 2007 when I used to not like it because the engines were too loud - I was covering my ears! "But when I watched when Seb got the championship, I got super impressed with Formula 1 and just how fast they are and then lots of things really surprised me. "Unfortunately I was probably not at Suzuka when Kobayashi got P3."


It was a dream Suzuka Sunday for Kamui Kobayashi back in 2012! 💫 If you're going to have one podium in your career, make it your home race! 🇯🇵 #JapaneseGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/ONcTF4BFFu — Formula 1 (@F1) October 5, 2022

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