It was a challenging Austrian GP for Formula 1’s Asian drivers, as neither Yuki Tsunoda, Alex Albon, or Zhou Guanyu managed to score points. Asian Motorsport reviews the action.

By Nida Anis

RB driver Tsunoda finished 14th, ahead of Williams’ Albon in 15th and Sauber’s Zhou in 17th. A time penalty for Albon and an on-track incident involving Zhou prevented them from climbing further up the order, whilst Tsunoda struggled with pace throughout the race in Spielberg.

Tsunoda: “The pace was off”

Although Tsunoda reflected positively on his race start, he struggled with pace as the Grand Prix progressed. “The race started well, I was behind Alpine and Daniel after the start, but by the third stint, I was way behind,” he said. “The pace was off, and we’ll have to find out why.”

Tsunoda’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, scored points after achieving a ninth place finish. “For sure Daniel did a good job during today’s race, so in the end we had a good conclusion,” Tsunoda commented. “We seem to understand more about what direction we as a team have to take for the coming races, so that’s a positive.”

RB Vehicle Performance Chief Engineer Claudio Balestri shed light on why Tsunoda might have struggled during the Grand Prix. “As for Yuki, his race was different and a bit more difficult,” he said. “We went long for the first stint on the medium and the pace was similar to the car in front on a similar strategy.

“Running a shorter last stint, we were not able to maximise the advantage, finishing P15. Mixed feelings, but we are still positive, and we now switch our thoughts to next week’s race at Silverstone, where we will try to improve further and get more important points.”

Albon: I believe P12 or P13 was possible”

Despite the dramatic finish to the Austrian Grand Prix, which saw leaders Max Verstappen and Lando Norris collide, Williams were unable to propel themselves into points-paying positions.

Albon had climbed up the first pit stop window, before coming in on Lap 12 for a set of fresh tyres, where he emerged in P19. After battling with Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, he attempted to make up ground to Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon. However, the French duo ultimately passed him.

When Alex came in for the final time on Lap 39 to fit new hards, he ran over the white line on pit entry. This earned him a five-second time penalty and compromised his chances to move further up the field. This placed him behind Tsunoda in the race results, despite the Thai driver finishing ahead on track.

“I believe P12 or P13 was possible today,” Albon said. “I know it’s not points, but I don’t like finishing behind where I think we could have finished. With the pit stops, I lost a lot of time, either fighting with cars then boxing straight afterwards or coming out into dirty air.”

Albon battles with Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll, who would ultimately finish ahead of him on track | Credit: Williams Racing

He added, “I don’t think it was easy out there with it being a short track and pit stops being a bit tricker, and I know it was my fault for crossing the line, but it’s just frustrating […] There are still some questions as I didn’t expect us to be lacking in performance that much.

“Hopefully, we won’t suffer the same problems next week and can come back stronger.”

Zhou: “[I was] lucky enough to continue” after Alonso incident

After recording the slowest time in qualifying, Sauber decided to make adjustments to Zhou’s car in breach of Parc Fermé regulations. This relegated him to a pit lane start, making an already difficult race even more challenging.

To make matters worse, Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso made contact with Zhou during the early stages of the Austrian GP. Alonso was handed a 10-second time penalty for the collision after the stewards deemed him responsible for attempting “a very late overtake on car 24 on the inside into turn three”.

“[Alonso] never got in a position to have the right to the line and made contact with car 24 at the apex,” the report read, adding that “the stewards determine that the driver of car 14 was wholly at fault.”

Zhou would finish the race in 17th, ahead of Alonso, Williams’ Logan Sargeant, and shock retiree Lando Norris. “I was obviously looking at a white car behind me, overtaking me side-by-side into the corner,” he explained.

“The next thing I saw was a green Fernando trying to divebomb. I think he was also trying to race the guys I was also overtaken by. I think he just went too too deep and hit me basically, so the car was quite damaged after that. [I was] lucky enough to continue, to be honest.”

The next Formula 1 race will be the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, where Tsunoda, Zhou, and Albon will aim to improve their fortunes after a difficult weekend in Spielberg.

Header photo credit: Chris Graythen / Red Bull Content Pool

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