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Tsunoda reflects on 'difficult' first F1 Japanese GP

Yuki Tsunoda was left disappointed after taking 13th in his first Japanese Grand Prix.

Yuki Tsunoda described his maiden Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix as "difficult" as the AlphaTauri driver struggled to a 13th place finish. Tsunoda – the first Japanese driver to compete in their home race in F1 since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014 – generally had the pace advantage over teammate Pierre Gasly all weekend at Suzuka, which included out-qualifying the Frenchman. While Gasly had a trying afternoon of his own, including two penalty points for speeding under the red flag as well as a well-documented tractor incident, Tsunoda had a quieter race. However, he was still unable to snap his score-less streak which stretches back to 10th at the Spanish Grand Prix – 12 races ago, which is the longest pointless run on the grid.

Difficult day for Tsunoda

Tsunoda was running in ninth place when the race resumed, but as the field dived for the pits to switch to the Intermediate tyres from the full wets, he lost out. He dropped down to 13th place, which is where he stayed for the remainder of the shortened race, while Gasly was 17th, but dropped to 18th and last following a 20-second time penalty being added to his race time in lieu of a drive-through for the red flag speeding. "It was a difficult afternoon, I obviously wanted to finish in the points, so it’s a real shame that I wasn't able to make it today," explained Tsunoda. "I think that I did the best I could today and extracted the most from the car, but the pace just wasn't there. "The whole weekend here has been so exciting still, I’ve really enjoyed my first experience of driving an F1 car round my home track and I want to say a huge thank you to all the fans that have come out to support both myself and the team, especially in these rainy conditions today. "Also, a big congratulations to Max [Verstappen] for winning the World Championship – it's great that the Japanese fans have been able to witness that here today!"

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