May 10, 2021

Tsunoda surprised to make bigger impact in Europe than Japan after debut

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In the round-up: Yuki Tsunoda says he was surprised to attract more attention from European fans than those in his native Japan after his points-scoring F1 debut.

In brief

Tsunoda surprised by popularity in Europe

A combination of finishing ninth on his F1 debut and dropping in on fellow Red Bull junior Liam Lawson’s livestreams has led to Yuki Tsunoda building a large European fanbase in recent weeks, with his social media following growing by 152,121 followers across Instagram and Twitter and becoming a quick fan favourite. It’s taken the 20-year-old by surprise.

“It was interesting that after Bahrain, I think I got a bigger reaction from European fans than from those in Japan,” said Tsunoda.

“It’s a cultural thing: Japanese fans want to see what I do in a few rounds before getting a proper impression.”

Tsunoda made one of the best starts to an F1 career by a Japanese driver. Only Satoru Nakajima and Shinji Nakano achieved higher finishes in their first races.

“I was surprised at that reaction in Europe. I didn’t expect it, because for me, Bahrain was not a perfect weekend and I was hoping to finish higher,” he added. “I am happy about the fans’ support, but I don’t feel pressure because of it, I take it as something positive and this weekend I will just get on and do my job.”

Sainz shouldn’t advertise weakness – Smedley

Sainz said he’d take it easy at the start

Former Ferrari engineer Rob Smedley said Carlos Sainz Jnr approached his first grand prix weekend with the Scuderia in the right way, but made one notable error.

Speaking to the F1 Nation podcast, Smedley said Sainz was wise not to make any bold claims about his entry into what some consider Charles Leclerc’s team.

“The worst thing that you could do is kind of come in and make a big, bold statement that you’re going to send Charles off into the weeds and you’re going to get number one status or whatever it is that I’m sure you eventually want, or you’ll both eventually want that. Because if that doesn’t work, the pressure just mounts on you and it becomes almost insurmountable, the task that you’ve got in hand.”

While he was impressed Sainz approached his team move and the Bahrain Grand Prix with caution in expectations, he did point out the error in being too candid about that caution in the lead up to the race seeing as his rivals could take advantage of it.

“I don’t think you should ever show your weaknesses. I mean Carlos probably should have kept its powder dry on that one. I think that was perhaps something that he didn’t want to advertise to his fellow adversaries.”

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On this day in F1

  • 30 years ago today Alex Zanardi won the first race of the new Formula 3000 season at Vallelunga. Christian Fittipaldi was second, Damon Hill fourth behind Antonio Tamburini

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