Yuki Tsunoda heads into his first ever Singapore Grand Prix having signed a contract extension with Scuderia AlphaTauri for 2023, meaning the Japanese driver can “focus only on the race weekend”.
It doesn’t come as a shock that the Faenza-based team opted to give Tsunoda a contract for a third season in the series, especially given that it’s currently difficult to pinpoint which Red Bull Junior driver will be the next to earn a promotion to the pinnacle of motorsport.
The young driver is “very happy” for the news of his contract extension to have been announced, even though, he states he was “fairly confident” he wouldn’t be dropped.
“I am very happy that my contract has been extended for another season. It was confirmed to me a short while ago, a few days before the announcement last week. I was fairly confident that I would be staying, but there was a bit of stress until it was confirmed, obviously that doesn’t bother you when you’re in the car, but off-track you do think about it a bit. So, I can head into Singapore and Japan with none of these worries, allowing me to focus only on the race weekend and my preparations – I’m excited!
This weekend’s returning race at the Marina Bay Circuit presents a new challenge for Tsunoda, with the AlphaTauri driver having never driven the circuit in-person before.
With Tsunoda having somewhat of a habit of crashing, he will desperately need to avoid any such thing at the demanding venue this weekend, with any incident likely to involve a long night for his mechanics.
Despite it being his first time at the circuit, Tsunoda is certain he has an “idea of what to expect”, with points again being the target.
“I don’t think Singapore will be an easy event for me as it will be my first time at this circuit, but I will just try to build up lap by lap during practice with my usual process for a new track. It will be difficult, but if we can get more performance out of the car then our target has to be aiming to score points. I’ve driven the Singapore circuit on the simulator, and it is definitely a busy track, where you are constantly moving the steering wheel with no place to rest on the lap.
“It will be physically demanding because of the weather being humid and hot, but we get similar conditions in Japan at certain times of the year, so I have an idea of what to expect. I’ve been doing specific training to prepare and adapt for these conditions for some time now, and I also think getting used to working on European time should not be too much of a problem.”
“We should have an aero update for this race” – Pierre Gasly
Pierre Gasly heads into the final six races of the season still unsure of where he will be racing next season, following heavy interest from the BWT Alpine F1 Team. It’s been reported that the Frenchman will most likely take Fernando Alonso‘s Alpine seat for 2023, despite being contracted to AlphaTauri for next year.
Should this deal happen, then it means the Frenchman has just six races left with the side who he arguably owes so much too, after they happily took him back in 2019 following his Oracle Red Bull Racing mid-season departure.
Gasly is very excited for this weekend, with it being one of his “favourite tracks”. He has a strong record at the venue, which includes a points finish at the last race in 2019. With AlphaTauri just one point behind the Haas F1 Team in the Constructors’ Championship, Gasly knows that points are vital to not only overtake the Americans but to try to catch Alfa Romeo F1 Team ORLEN in sixth.
“We start this final part of the year in Singapore, which is one of my favourite tracks. I finished in the points the last time we raced there in 2019. It’s a very technical track, with a lot of corners, a lot of rhythm to it and very twisty. It’s a complicated street circuit which means you cannot make any mistakes at all, so it’s challenging in terms of the level of concentration required. We should also have an aero update for this race, so we will see what it brings in terms of performance.”
“We are one point behind seventh place in the Constructors’ so our goal over the last six races this year has to be to at least move up as much as possible, and it’s looking very tight. It’s not impossible for us to catch Alfa Romeo for sixth, but it might be complicated and depend on us having a really great end to the season. We have to aim to score points with both cars as often as possible, even if it’s not easy.”