Tsunoda more relaxed ahead of F1 season

Yuki Tsunoda says he's more relaxed ahead of the 2023 F1 season

Yuki Tsunoda says he’s more relaxed ahead of the 2023 F1 season

Yuki Tsunoda is both more confident and more relaxed heading into his third season of F1 with Scuderia AlphaTauri.

The Japanese driver is the defacto team leader at the Italian squad following the departure of Pierre Gasly to Alpine.

Nyck de Vries has joined in place of the Frenchman in a year many view as make or break for Tsunoda’s future.

Tsunoda entered Formula 1 in 2021 amid hype over his potential but struggled to live up to those expectations.

Things improved last year to the point where he was broadly on par with Gasly in the back half of the year.

However, with Liam Lawson waiting in the wings, Tsunoda will need to step things up again in 2023.

Despite that, he says he is more relaxed and confident than ever heading into the new season.

“I start to feel like improvements every race,” he said of his growth since making his F1 debut.

“Literally last year, every race I was able to improve little by little.

“But also to be honest, [the] first half of the season first year, when I look back, I think [there was] a question mark about my chassis.

“To be honest, the second half of the season first year, I [was] able to improve myself race by race but I [had my] chassis changed.

“Straight away, change of chassis, next session in first FP1, I was able to match Pierre’s lap time – the race before in Russia, I was two seconds off in free practice.”

Now with two seasons under his belt, and a new relationship with Daniel Ricciardo’s former trainer, Michael Italiano, Tsunoda is mentally better prepared than ever.

“I think already is a step better, a step relaxed more than [the] first half [of my] first year compared to [my] second year,” the 22-year-old said.

“And I think [from my] second year [to my] third year now, I feel more relaxed.

“Even the situation, I’m more responsible, have to deliver the results, even those situations I’m quite relaxed.”

The 2023 Formula 1 season kicks off this weekend with the Bahrain Grand Prix, opening practice for which begins at 14:30 local time on Friday (22:30 AEDT).

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