It was a frustrating day at the office for AlphaTauri in Jeddah, as the team found themselves out of the points in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Rookie driver Nyck de Vries finished in 14th position, while his teammate Yuki Tsunoda came across the line in 11th position, just seconds behind the Haas of Kevin Magnussen.
“It’s frustrating to miss out on a point, but there were positives to take from the drivers and team’s performance tonight,” said Jody Egginton, the team’s Technical Director. “We’re now looking forward to the planned aero developments and we trust they will improve our performance in the upcoming events.”
For the rookie de Vries, there might have been some solace in the fact that he turned in his performance despite losing the entire third practice session, as the team was forced to change out his power unit. Missing every bit of track time at a circuit like Jeddah, where the sight lines and 27 turns push drivers to the limit, can be a problem.
But the driver did not see it that way.
“I didn’t do a good enough job today. I lost most of my momentum at the start and restart, so I got stuck in traffic. It’s difficult to regain that rhythm and make up the positions, especially when you’re caught in a DRS train,” said de Vries after the Grand Prix. “I didn’t attack enough and struggled to find the balance between managing the tyres well and pushing, so I was unable to get them to the right temperature. In the end, when I was in clean air chasing Zhou, my pace was very strong and consistent. Generally, it was a step up from Bahrain, so that’s a positive. We definitely need to keep going and continue to push.”
Tsunoda threatened to put AlphaTauri in the points, thanks to the position he picked up on the track during the early safety car brought out when Lance Stroll’s Aston Martin failed on the track. When the green flag flew to restart the race, Tsunoda was in the points, sitting in P8.
“The strategy was good, and the double stack pitstop under the Safety Car worked well as we gained track position. We achieved this as both drivers managed the medium tyre very well, meaning we could extend the first stint and not lose time to our midfield competitors, who stopped for the hard compound earlier,” said Egginton after the Grand Prix. “This strategy, together with the Safety Car, put Yuki into the fight for the final points positions tonight.”
However, Tsunoda slowly slid back to P10, finding himself locked in a battle with Magnussen for the points. Eventually, the Haas found its way past Tsunoda with just a few laps remaining, leaving the AlphaTauri driver with nothing to do but let out an exclamation over the radio that needed to be caught by the censors.
“I ended the race in P11, it’s frustrating to lose the position with only four laps to go. The team did a really great job, everything went perfectly. The pace on the medium tyre was very strong and it improved compared to qualifying,” said Tsunoda. “I’m happy with what the team and I achieved together, but at the same time, I’m disappointed we didn’t reach the points in the end.”
Now the challenge is to turn promise into points.
“We’ll come back stronger with updates in Melbourne, so we are already fully focused on the next race, where we will do our best to maximise our performance,” said Tsunoda. We’ll continue to work hard to be able to fight at the top of the midfield and start scoring points consistently.”