Yuki Tsunoda fired off a series of impressive times in the closing stages of testing in Bahrain, but it appears the AlphaTauri rookie used and abused a DRS ploy on his cracking hot laps.
Tsunoda’ indulged in a series of late runs on Sunday, the fastest of which was just 0.093s shy of Red Bull pace setter Max Verstappen.
The Japanese driver’s performance was certainly a testimony to his remarkable quick adaption to F1 as well as to the overall efficiency of AlphaTauri’s Honda-powered AT02.
While Tsunoda’s late charges caught the attention of commentators, it also sparked the interest of a few keen F1 observers on the internet who caught sight of how the AlphaTauri charger was activating his DRS much earlier than his rivals and well ahead of the assigned activation zones.
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Drivers may freely use DRS in pre-season testing, but Tsunoda repeatedly exploited the device to the max, opening the AT02’s rear wing on the exit of Sakhir’s Turn 15 well before the activation line located 170m up the road.
The AlphaTauri also flashed through the speed trap in Sunday’s final session at a healthy 322 km/h, or 3 km/h clear of Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari, the second fastest car on the main straight.
Tsunoda’s ploy wasn’t lost on McLaren’s Lando Norris who responded to an Instagram post by the Japanese driver hailing his “very smooth day” by asking, “How’s the DRS”, followed by a laughing emoji.