'Sensational' Yuki Tsunoda can put AT top of midfield teams

One of the revelations of pre-season testing, Helmut Marko believes Yuki Tsunoda can help AlphaTauri lead the midfield battle.

Tsunoda made his Formula 1 bow at the Bahrain circuit this past weekend, taking part in the three day test where he put in an eye-catching lap to sit second.

The Japanese rookie, the youngest driver on the 2021 grid, clocked a 1:29.053 late on the final afternoon.

That put him just a tenth behind pace-setter Max Verstappen in the Red Bull.

“Our Yuki Tsunoda has delivered a sensational performance during testing,” Marko told RTL.

“We expect AlphaTauri to be at the front of the midfield battle.”

Pierre Gasly was 11th in the test, 1.36s slower than Tsunoda.1:30.413, as he laid down the most laps of any driver, 237.

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The Red Bull advisor also weighed in on the senior team’s test.

Red Bull not only set the pace but also had relatively trouble-free test that allowed Verstappen and Sergio Perez to 369 laps, that was 65 more than main rivals Mercedes.

The Brackley squad had a difficult outing with issues on all three days with Valtteri Bottas labelling the car “quite snappy and unforgiving”.

Marko says Red Bull’s RB16B is anything but.

“In comparison to Mercedes, our car looks more calm,” he said.

“That makes it easier for the driver because it is more predictable and you can be much better on the limit. That was our aim.

“A fast car that is predictable. And I think we succeeded in that.”

He, however, says Mercedes’ times, with Lewis Hamilton more than a second slower than Verstappen, had more to do with fuel load than performance.

He added: “But Mercedes are still the favourites.

“We think they drove with more fuel than we did. That means they are very confident and have a lot more up their sleeves.”

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