Yuki Tsunoda became the first Japanese driver in over a decade to score points in Formula 1, after Kamui Kobayashi last did it in 2009. However, for the rookie, the best part of the weekend was being able to race against Fernando Alonso, his father's favorite driver.
Tsunoda's superb Formula 2 season had everyone excited about his Formula 1 debut, and his incredible lap time in Q1 which placed him second, highlighted just how quick he was.
In the race, however, Tsunoda made a poor start, later admitting that he was a bit too cautious so as to not cause any damage. He lost a number of places as a result but worked his way back up the order to eventually finish ninth after a last-lap pass on Lance Stroll.
Tsunoda describes his "emotional" pass on Alonso
On Lap 25, Tsunoda made a bold pass on Fernando Alonso. Coming from a long way back, he outbraked the Spaniard to take over P11 and then went on to distance himself from the two-time world champion, who eventually retired with brake issues.
Tsunoda admitted that passing his father's favorite Formula 1 driver in his first grand prix had been emotional for him.
"I got a bit of an emotional thing when I passed Fernando," Tsunoda said during his post-race press conference. "My father is quite a big Fernando fan, especially of his driving style. I think the first time my dad saw Fernando was in Suzuka and he said that in the last corner...his acceleration...he was the best driver on the grid. So in Turn 1, I just trusted Fernando’s skills and I just launched it like a rookie! (laughing). I felt a bit sorry, because I really came from quite far away but it was definitely a pretty emotional thing. Of course it’s not the same car, but I was happy for that."
With just one race under his belt, Tsunoda has already shown that he's got what it takes to stay in Formula 1, while also proving that the AlphaTauri is capable of scoring points. From his delicate approach toward his equipment to his measured actions on track, the young Japanese driver could very well follow in the footsteps of his illustrious countrymen like Takuma Sato and Kamui Kobayashi.