'Problem child' Tsunoda stays patient with new psychologist

2 minute read

Formula One F1 - Austrian Grand Prix - Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria - July 7, 2022 AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda ahead of the Grand Prix REUTERS/Florion Goga

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July 7 (Reuters) - Japanese Formula One racer Yuki Tsunoda thinks it will take time to reap the benefits from working with a new sports psychologist assigned to him by Red Bull, he said on Thursday.

The 22-year-old, who drives for Red Bull's sister team AlphaTauri, has become a fan favourite for his outbursts on the team radio during races and candid comments about the sport.

"I don’t know currently if it’s working well or not," Tsunoda told reporters at the Austrian Grand Prix.

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"He has to understand more about myself and also I have to understand what direction we have to take."

Tsunoda graduated to Formula One from Formula Two last year and worked with a different sports psychologist during his time in the feeder series.

He came up through Red Bull's driver development programme and endured a difficult debut year last season, scoring points in his first race, then suffering a dip in form before ending the season with a fourth-place finish in Abu Dhabi.

Moved by Red Bull to Faenza in Italy to be close to the AlphaTauri factory, he went into this year having swapped his Uber Eats and video game lifestyle for a more disciplined approach.

He has scored points in three of the 10 races this season, the same as race-winning team mate Pierre Gasly.

But Tsunoda has also shown flashes of his erratic and wild former self, most recently at the last race in Silverstone where he spun into Gasly while trying to pass him.

Bits of debris got lodged under Red Bull championship leader Max Verstappen's car, costing the Dutchman 2.5 seconds a lap and possibly the race win.

Speaking to Red Bull-owned Servus TV, Helmut Marko, who runs the Red Bull junior programme, described Tsunoda as its "problem child".

Tsunoda apologised to his team for the Silverstone crash.

"I know that I have to improve myself (in) those parts to have more consistency.

"So, hopefully, the new trainer will work well."

Verstappen, also given to vocal outbursts on the radio, believes they have not affected his performance.

"If the day comes that I’m not going to be upset about these things anymore then I’m not interested in the sport anymore," he said.

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Reporting by Abhishek Takle in Mumbai; editing by Ed Osmond

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