Yuki Tsunoda's Spanish GP weekend didn't go particularly well for the Japanese rookie, particularly in terms of how he conducted himself.
It started in FP3 on Saturday morning, with Tsunoda radioing in angrily to complain about late radio calls. He hadn't even finished the message when his engineer interrupted to tersely reply, "Yuki, calm down, OK?"
This was followed by the now infamous outburst after qualifying, in which Tsunoda was eliminated in Q1, leading him to ponder aloud "It's a different fit compared to my teammate so I have a bit of a question mark is it the same car?"
"Of course it's the same car but the character is too different. Maybe of course it's just the driving style but I don't understand what's happened, why I'm struggling this much."
These are comments that a seasoned, proven veteran might get away with, but not a rookie who has disappointed ever since his solid debut in Bahrain just a few weeks ago.
Tsunoda started off well, coming home ninth at the season opener after a mature race in which he cleanly overtook childhood hero Fernando Alonso. But, having earned the praise of Helmut Marko on that day, Tsunoda has simply fallen apart.
He spent most of his time at Imola going off or crashing, as well as picking up a penalty for exceeding track limits, with his performance earning the wrath of Marko, who called him "cocky" afterwards. This seems to have suddenly hugely increased the pressure on Tsunoda who, rather than shrugging it off, seems to have seized up.
Coming home a lap down in 15th in Portugal, Tsunoda's angry Spanish weekend came to an end very early in the race due to an engine issue caused by the Honda electronics.
It almost feels like Tsunoda allowed himself to get carried away by the praise he earned in Bahrain, perhaps already seeing himself in the Red Bull seat alongside Max Verstappen next season. His errors at Imola have set off a chain of events which have only frustrated him, and the 20 year old simply hasn't been able to handle it well so far.
Immediate promotion from Formula 3 after one season into Formula 2, and then straight into Formula 1 have perhaps convinced him that this linear upward path will continue, and that simply isn't the case. The considerably tougher world of Formula 1, coupled with the marked difference in media attention and fan discussion, is a pressure cooker.
Driving errors aside, Tsunoda needs to be aware that his career is in the hands of Red Bull. Even giving him the benefit of the doubt of English not being his first language, his Saturday comments will have incurred the wrath of team boss Franz Tost behind closed doors, although Tost is surely experienced and wise enough to realise that it is inexperience and frustration lashing out, not maliciousness.
But Tost can't protect a driver once Red Bull decide enough is enough. Scott Speed, Sebastien Buemi, Sebastien Bourdais,
Jaime Alguersuari, Jean-Eric Vergne, Brendon Hartley, as well as Daniil
Kvyat and Alex Albon can all attest to how unforgiving, and demanding, Red Bull can be.
Hot headed anger rarely works out for a driver, in a sport that requires calm, logical thinking and brain processing power while driving that leaves little room for emotion. Certainly, 2009 World Champion Jenson Button believes that the young man needs to figure out how to control his temper.
“I think he’s got to control his anger a little bit, teams don’t like it when you talk out like that,” Button told Sky Sports F1 on Saturday afternoon.
“He needs to control that if he wants to stay in this sport, especially with Franz. You can’t speak about the car like that or speak about the team like that.
“He’s got to get back, see what his team mate’s doing differently and discuss it with the team. Not in public.”
Teammate Pierre Gasly, who himself has had to deal with similar pressures as well as professional and personal life collapsing around him in the middle of 2019 as he lost his Red Bull seat and close friend Anthoine Hubert within days of each other, may only be a few years older but has found that emotional maturity.
"Yuki obviously had a tough qualifying yesterday, and he is quite emotional," the Frenchman told RacingNews365.com and other select media.
"So I think it’s a bit of emotional control. But he’s also young and Ibelieve he will learn and improve on this side of things."
Tsunoda was contrite on Saturday evening, once the heat of the moment had passed (and he had presumably had a dressing down). Releasing an apology through his social media channels, as well as on his pre-race media calls, Tsunoda said "I am very fortunate to have a group of such talented and hardworking people working on my car and wanted to apologise to the team for my comments today.
"I couldn't maximise the potential of the car and was frustrated with myself.
Tsunoda'sengineer sounding so fed up with his anger at just the fourth round of the season isn't a particularly good sign. Like in any workplace, getting along with your colleagues is crucial to success and, while Tsunoda is clearly a talented racer, he needs a mindset change, and fast, if he wants to stick around.
Luckily for him, Tost is well used to dealing with and developing rookie drivers and is able to act as a buffer between the young drivers and the Red Bull masters who control Tsunoda's destiny. The AlphaTauri team are a seasoned bunch, and steps will undoubtedly be taken to reign in Tsunoda's anger and frustrations to turn them into something more useful.
Once the spiral is broken and Tsunoda can start finding that confidence again, without him already fearing that he has thrown his career away, then it's quite likely he will be able to rise out of this immediate slump.
The team are certain to give Tsunoda time to gel, but it's on his shoulders to improve his attitude. Another badly-judged outburst like he had after Spanish qualifying, and things could get considerably worse for him.