Tsunoda: “I always thought a Formula 1 car had 2 horsepower”

Yuki Tsunoda will also drive for AlphaTauri in 2023. For the little Japanese it will be his third year in the royal class. spoke in a candid interview in 2021 formula 1 exclusively with Tsunoda about his difficult start in Europe, his passion for cooking and his first experiences with Formula 1 at the Fuji Grand Prix in 2007.

Yuki Tsunoda is obsessed with food and already dreams of owning his own restaurant chain. The Japanese
has become one of the most popular drivers in his debut year: because of his smile, swearing,
small stature, high cuddly content, open-mindedness and authenticity. “I curse at least once
a minute.” At AlphaTauri, his employer, they run away with him. Yuki Tsunoda (22) is always cheerful, polite, in for a joke and according to team manager Graham Watson ‘small in stature, but not afraid of anyone’. And he thinks the food that the Italian chefs prepare for the Japanese newcomer in the motorhome is heavenly. “Yuki keeps saying how much he likes that,” Watson claims. “Recently, during
asked an interview what he likes about Formula 1. Max Verstappen replied: in the car
drive away, Yuki replied: the food.”

“I just love food in general,” Tsunoda explains in an entertaining one-on-one conversation
under the sun. “And not just from Japanese. I like to try to taste the traditional food in the
countries where we all come.” Since this year, Tsunoda lives in Italy, close to AlphaTauri’s factory
in Faenza. A blessing, he says. Because Italian cuisine is one of his favorites. “So I’m up now
the right place”, the Japanese beams. He regularly cooks himself or visits restaurants. And then there is
Another easy option: have it delivered to your home.

“I like cooking myself,” Tsunoda admits. He developed this hobby playfully and somewhat
out of necessity, after moving from Japan to Europe for his racing career. “My first
years in Europe I lived in Switzerland, in Lausanne. Everyone speaks French there, but that speaks
not me. As a result, I did not have the courage to go to restaurants, because I can hardly see myself
could make comprehensible. So I cooked for myself all year round: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Everything
on and on, for 365 days. And from that moment on I really started to enjoy cooking.”

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

home delivery

He no longer has much time to spend hours behind the hob. Formula 1 gulps
almost all his time and attention, even outside the Grands Prix. “In 2020, during the lockdown I cooked
quite often, now a lot less. Since the season started I have a busy schedule, I often leave now
home delivery. I think I’ve gotten used to that lifestyle a little too much, by the way.
haha. Still, I try to return to my old life and cook more myself. There is”, thus makes
he made clear with a wide gesture, “At the same time as the WiFi, a nice big kitchen in my house
installed. You know what? I’m just going to start again.”

Tsunoda is obviously used to Japanese food. “When I make my own food, it’s usually Japanese”, so
he confirms. One of his other specialties in the making is Italian. Pastas and salad, it’s delicious
of it. “Italian food is best in a restaurant. Somehow it tastes like there
always better than making it yourself. Maybe because of the ingredients you use.”
But he apparently has a taste for it. “My dream is to open my own restaurant.
Maybe several,” Tsunoda reveals. The name? “Ristorante Yuki Tsunoda, haha! But”, so
he adds immediately, “it’s a dream for now. All I think about now is racing.”

That is, as he admits first, also badly needed. After a promising debut in
Bahrain, where he immediately scored World Cup points, has suffered a bit. Solid sliders not only caused a lot of damage and cost him and the team precious points, his
confidence took a huge blow. “I thought after Bahrain maybe a little
light about it and to be honest I underestimated Formula 1 a bit,” Tsunoda admits. Red Bull’s CEO
Helmut Marko called him a future world champion. “I was disappointed, had myself too
expected more. It has been a year of ups and downs. Things went great in Bahrain, at Imola (where
he crashed hard, ed.) I had too much confidence. There I went over the limit in qualifying,
ended up in the wall. Since then I have lost some confidence” Tsunoda switched a
mental helpline to get out of the pit. In addition, he moved to AlphaTauris’s base in
Faenza, where team boss Franz Tost watches over him and further guides him in the world of
Formula 1. “I am now on my way to Bahrain level again”, he concludes with satisfaction.

Five bedrooms

According to Tsunoda, the transition to Italy has been completed, he has now found his place there. He
now has his own home where he has everything his heart desires. “It’s a very big house”,
says the Japanese. “I have more than enough space, one hundred percent: five bedrooms and three
floors. With my height that is certainly big enough, haha.” Watson: “There can be up to 25 people
live.” Tsunoda: “But I enjoy the house, I feel completely at ease there. It is also
important that I now live close to the factory. That helps enormously.”

According to Watson, Tsunoda made few demands on a new home, only two
requirements to be met. “He wanted a house with a fence for his Honda NSX and good wifi.”
For weeks, Tsunoda was without a network. “A nightmare,” he assures. “I had no reception,
because the walls of the house are too thick in some places. I’ve had it for a month and a half
waited, now i have good wifi and can do simulator work at home and do some gaming for fun.
The team has been a great help to me in everything. I think they have eighty percent of all the work
I’m very grateful to everyone for that.”

Yuki Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly | Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

ears closed

Tsunoda is the first Japanese driver in Formula 1 since Kamui Kobayashi. He carries the hope of
an entire nation. In two years he stormed into Formula 1 from the European entry classes, something
which he himself had never thought of for a long time. Because Formula 1 was never high on his wish list.
“I did a lot of sports, basketball, baseball and football, but I wasn’t very much in Formula 1”
interested.”

“The 2007 Japanese GP in Fuji was my first introduction to this sport. I was there with my
parents, also remember that it was very wet. Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso zag
I drive there, legends.” Tsunoda liked it, that’s all. “I did my as often as I could
ears closed. Even during the race I was still discussing with my parents whether we should not go home
could go, because of the noise and the weather.”

“I do regret it now”, continues Tsunoda, “that I didn’t look closely at the time and
listened. Because what the cars looked like then and that sound: you can no longer see or hear that. I was
seven years, not the age that I realized I liked this sport so much. I thought driving a car
Nice, but I’ve never really been interested in that. I didn’t know until last year
what horsepower meant. When people asked me how much horsepower is in the NSX or the Formula 1 car,
I said: maybe two? I just really didn’t know. Now I know it’s a little more than two,
haha.”

Yuki Tsunoda in 2019 | Photo: Motorsport Images

The art of having to master a thousand horsepower in the back of the car, the speed and downforce:
Tsunoda simply cannot do without. “These Formula 1 cars are unbelievable,” claims the
Japanese. “Sensational to drive. Especially the acceleration with 1000 horsepower is very special. I
I think it’s a great feeling when I have the car completely under control and it does what I want. That
The moment has come again,” he believes. “And when I have that confidence again, I can be fast. you know i am
bored with most things pretty quickly. But behind the wheel in this car I have no problems
from.”

Tsunoda knew that he is far from being able to show what he is capable of in 2021. The
crashes and errors, it frustrated him. That caused the world to have a different character trait
discovered from him, the swearing. The Japanese is adept at it, has an impressive repertoire.
“Thank you”, Tsunoda replies succinctly to the observation. “I also trained a lot on it. The
Lately I’ve been trying to swear a little less ‘in the helmet’. No, the team or Franz has me
didn’t tell me to stop doing that. I still curse,” he explains, “quite a lot. Secure
when the on-board radio is off.” Tsunoda realizes that not everyone can appreciate his language. But
when the adrenaline rushes through your body, it happens naturally. It is who he is, he says. “Generally
I curse at least once a minute in my daily life.”

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Tsunoda thought Formula car horsepower

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