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Yuki Tsunoda

Tsunoda identifies crucial trait behind ending three-year qualifying hoodoo

Yuki Tsunoda banked a top-10 starting position for the third consecutive race ahead of his home event at Suzuka.

Tsunoda Japan Quali
To news overview © XPBimages

Yuki Tsunoda believes his strong start to the season is a combination of a developed understanding of car set-ups and an increased level of confidence.

Tsunoda had out-qualified team-mate Daniel Ricciardo at the first three races, and continued that run with another Q3 berth in qualifying for his home Japanese Grand Prix, shading Ricciardo into 11th place by just 0.055s.

It is also the first time since his rookie season of 2021 Tsunoda has made Q3 on three consecutive occasions.

The Japanese racer has also scored all of the team's six points thus far in 2024, courtesy of a seventh place in the last race in Australia, and puts his strong form down to his increased confidence in directing car set-up with his engineers.

"My confidence level is good, and I think the preparation going into qualifying in how to create the best possible car is getting better and better," he told media including RacingNews365.

"It is just understanding more about how to make a car fast. I've always been good in qualifying, and on top of my confidence level, it matches well with the car.

"I think that is the main reason, but of course, there is the car set-up and I am starting to understand how to create a good balance."

At Suzuka, only both cars from the Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari teams, as well as Fernando Alonso's Aston Martin, out-qualified Tsunoda - who conceded struggles with the slow-speed hairpin and chicane cost him time.

"It wasn't an easy qualifying, we struggled with the balance in the slow-speed corners, and I don't know why," he added.

"The team did a fantastic job to line up with both cars around P10, and there is a good chance we can score points.

"100% it is not a bad thing [to be the lead car among the bottom five teams], especially now it is very tight."

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RESULTS 2024 F1 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - Qualifying