Yuki Tsunoda is eyeing up his second season in Formula 1 with increased confidence, after finishing a tumultuous 2021 season on a high. But, despite this, the Japanese driver says he feels the weight of expectation on his shoulders has increased.
Having struggled for most of his debut season at AlphaTauri in a campaign littered with crashes and subdued performances, Tsunoda managed to find some pace and form in the final races to cap his year off with a fourth place in the dramatic Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Continuing into a second season, Tsunoda knows what he has to do in order to make the necessary step up and impress team owners Red Bull.
"I want to improve my pace and the consistency in the way I drive; I know what I have to do to achieve that," he said at the launch of AlphaTauri's new AT03 on Monday.
"If I can work the way I did at the last three or four races of last year, that will be a good way to start. It won't be easy, but I am confident that I can achieve that."
Tsunoda: I know what my weak points are
Tsunoda was open about struggling with his work ethic during 2021, revealing that he was a "lazy b*****d" until Red Bull took charge by relocating him to Italy to be under the watchful gaze of AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost.
Alex Albon, Red Bull's reserve driver, was also appointed in a mentorship-type role, which seemed to help Tsunoda steady the ship.
Having accumulated experience at each track in 2021, Tsunoda explained that the knowledge that comes with this has equipped him well to cope with hurdles in 2022.
"I feel I have a much better understanding of what I have to do than I did a year ago," he said.
"I know how to prepare in order to perform well. I know what my weak points are. I have all of my experience from last year to build on and I have been working hard to be ready.
"Last year, if anything unexpected or unusual happened, I could not adapt quickly enough to deal with the situation, which is why I struggled in a lot of races.
"I ended last year well, with a fourth place in Abu Dhabi, so I want to carry that momentum into this new season. I feel more pressure to perform now than I did last year, but it's a good pressure, which is motivation for me when I'm training."
Video: AlphaTauri present their new F1 car!
Check out AlphaTauri's new F1 challenger, the AT03, which was presented to the world during a special launch ceremony.