Honda-backed young Tsunoda reached Q3 for the third time this season at Istanbul Park on Saturday, and started well to take eighth place early ahead of Hamilton.
The AlphaTauri driver managed to keep Hamilton back for a number of laps with strong defense, delaying the Mercedes driver’s recovery from a grid penalty that meant he had started 11th.
But Hamilton eventually managed to pass in the eighth lap outside of turn 3, Tsunoda then gave up the points after going on lap 22.
Tsunoda explained that he “used too many tires at the start” in the fight with Hamilton, but wanted to do everything in his power to help the Honda-powered Verstappen title race for Red Bull before the exit of the Japanese manufacturer of F1 in the year.
âI want Max to win the last year for Honda, and for Red Bull as well,â Tsunoda said.
âSo I tried to hold Lewis back as much as possible, because I don’t know how many laps. I was trying to save more from my tire.
âI tried to hold him back for 20 laps. Eight turns are not enough.
Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri AT02, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport images
Hamilton would finish race fifth for Mercedes, meaning Verstappen regained the championship lead by six points with six races remaining.
Tsunoda finally crossed the 14th line and lamented the spin after believing he had the pace to score points.
He explained that the dirty jet – something also noted by Nikita Mazepin and Lando Norris – made him think a car was right behind, prompting him to push harder.
âI couldn’t see anything because of the dirt and dust,â Tsunoda said.
âI just couldn’t see, I thought there was a car right behind me, so I just pushed and I sped.
âThe pirouette ruined my entire race so it’s a shame. We were able to score points today, so yeah, it’s just a shame.
Tsunoda also regretted the lost points as AlphaTauri pushed to catch Alpine for fifth in the Constructors’ Championship, 12 points behind Turkey.
“It was an opportunity to bring us big points compared to the other teams,” he said.