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Tsunoda: AlphaTauri a “dark horse” after transformational F1 upgrades

Yuki Tsunoda believes AlphaTauri are now the “dark horse” in Formula 1 after a major upgrade has put the team firmly in the hunt for seventh in the constructors’ championship.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04, Daniel Ricciardo, AlphaTauri AT04

Prior to the United States Grand Prix last month, AlphaTauri sat bottom of the teams’ standings. It ran seven points adrift of ninth-placed Haas with only five rounds remaining.

But for Austin, the team debuted a substantial update package that included a new floor, revised engine cover bodywork plus suspension and chassis geometry to increase downforce.

Since its introduction, AlphaTauri has scored in all three rounds to leapfrog Haas and Alfa Romeo for eighth. It now sits only seven points behind Williams, which ended development of its car early.

Given the improved performance and consistent scoring, Tsunoda reckons AlphaTauri is now a “dark horse.”

He said of the upturn: “It's a big surprise. I think we're right now a dark horse, especially compared to our other competitors. So, I think it's good.

“So far, we are scoring points three races in a row. So, a very good rhythm.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

“We need to just keep doing like this for the rest of the races. Now we are closer to P7 in the teams' championship. I think it’s possible, and we will do our best.”

In Mexico, Daniel Ricciardo excelled by qualifying fourth before holding onto seventh place. Then, last time out in Brazil, Tsunoda pounced on crashes and retirements to bank ninth in the GP.

Although, he was a touch fortunate given he dipped a wheel onto the grass to initiate a half spin. The Japanese driver’s take was: “That was a big mistake. It was a bit scary. I shit my pants! Luckily, I didn’t DNF.”

Meanwhile, AlphaTauri’s rivals all drew blanks at Interlagos. Both Alfa Romeos retired with technical faults, Kevin Magnussen and Alex Albon were eliminated in a hefty Turn 1 shunt while their team-mates Nico Hulkenberg and Logan Sargeant failed to score.

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Tsunoda continued: “Inside the car, I feel quite similar. Obviously, I feel better, I feel more the balance.

“The results say everything. We definitely made a big step, especially the upgrades we had in Austin.

“Before Austin, we didn’t score enough points often. Now, we’re scoring three races in a row. That shows everything.”

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