Tsunoda: qualifying session was harder than expected

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Monaco, Monte Carlo Circuitmc

Following a strong showing in qualifying in Imola, the Visa Cash RB team was unable to mirror that performance, but Yuki Tsunoda still managed to secure a top ten starting position for tomorrow's Monaco Grand Prix.

Yuki Tsunoda appeared to be extremely quick during the practice session, and he managed to carry that form over into the all-important qualifying session. The Japanese made the top 10 shootout yet again, and so slowly becoming a regular feature in Q3.

The man from Sagamihara will start from P8 today as he heads up the midfield runners. Although he conceded that he was slightly surprised by the gains his rivals made come qualifying, he will be eager to made the best of his great position to bag some more points.

“Today was much harder than expected, but we picked up the pace quite a lot and managed to improve lap by lap in every session from Q1 to Q3. Q1 was a bit of a struggle considering the pace we had in free practice, but we managed to squeeze out every millisecond from the car.

"It was super intense, one mistake is a big compromise here. I felt a little bit of pressure, but at the same time enjoyed it, I managed to keep my mind calm and extract the performance of the car. It’s going to be tricky tomorrow, it’s hard to overtake here so the start is very decisive and the main thing is to have a clean race.

"The pace is good, so we just have to extract all car’s performance. Overall as a team, we did a fantastic job, consistently this week. Ending up in P8, it’s a nice feeling and definitely special here.”

His team-mate Ricciardo struggled with tyre preparation, the C5 rubber seemingly having a very narrow working window here which was exacerbated by so many drivers jostling for position. The Australian made it into Q2, but he ended up 13th quickest, prompting him to label his day as tough.

“It was a tough day today. Qualifying is very important here in Monaco and it hurts starting outside the top 10 for tomorrow’s race. Yesterday we felt we were in a good place, I knew there was a little bit to come for us so I was definitely excited coming into today, but unfortunately, it feels like we took a little bit of a backstep.

"I’m not disappointed with the way I drove, it just simply wasn’t quite enough to get the most out of it where I needed to. The car was slightly trickier in some places and I was struggling a little, but it wasn’t a matter of us making any big mistakes. Personally, I just found it difficult to get the tyres going in the first lap and then, whenever I was able to lift the pace, we couldn’t find as much time as the others.

"I’ve qualified a few times around this position here and certainly, it won't make our life easy. It’s frustrating, but we’ll work together with the team to understand a few things better and we’ll try to get on top of it for the race.”

Speaking of his team's day in Monaco, Head of Vehicle Performance Guillaume Dezoteux added: “After a solid Friday and the usual overnight analysis and simulator work, our plan was to dedicate the third free practice to the optimisation of the soft tyres for the quali. In the qualifying session, we knew the competition would be very tight and that finding a good traffic window was critical, especially in the busy Q1 with 20 cars on track.

"Engineers and mechanics did a great job at being out at the right time and finding good positions around the circuit. We did competitive laps on the first set of tyres, but it was clear that the high track evolution would force everyone to run again. During the second qualifying session, it was again close and Yuki did a strong lap in his second set securing the access to Q3. Daniel struggled a little bit more with the balance of his car but still managed to beat Stroll and get very close to Hulkenberg, who is a focus of ours for the weekend.

"Q3 was definitely easier as for traffic management, with only 10 cars on track. Yuki has done a great job at securing the eighth position. It's another Q3 for us and once more we top the midfield runners. We are in a strong position for tomorrow. Now its's time for our strategy group to review the various race scenarios, run many simulations and we will discuss and define our final plan in the morning. The target is clear: bring home some more points.”