Alpha Tauri’s new signing Yuki Tsunoda says he’s excited to be able to learn from ‘incredible talent’ Pierre Gasly as teammates in 2021.
Yuki Tsunoda steps up to Formula 1 with Alpha Tauri this year, having impressed during his debut season in Formula 2 in 2020. Having been awarded the Anthoine Hubert trophy for being the best rookie in the series after finishing P3 overall, Tsunoda has been promoted to F1 with the Red Bull junior team with backing from both Red Bull and Honda.
Tsunoda will be the first Japanese driver to race in Formula 1 since Kamui Kobayashi with Caterham in 2014, and the 20 year old says the fast progression through the ranks wasn’t something he expected so soon: “To reach Formula 1 – which was my final goal as a driver – you don’t just have to deliver results, you also need some luck, and this is something you can’t control. So, from my side, I knew I always had to give my best at all times. It was in my hands to stand out and impress the bosses, who can make your dream come true. In every series, you need to develop a strong pace very quickly, so I was committed to doing well right from the start of my career. It was good to show what I could achieve in my inaugural year in F2 and I’m so happy to have graduated to F1 so quickly.”
Tsunoda, as a rookie, has been placed alongside the much more experienced Pierre Gasly. The French driver stays on with the Red Bull team to make it his fifth season in the sport – all of which he’s competed in with Red Bull’s two teams. He became a Grand Prix winner in 2020 by claiming victory at Monza, and Tsunoda says he’s delighted to line up alongside someone he rates so highly.
“Pierre is really fast and already has a win under his belt in F1. The first target for every driver is to beat your team-mate but he will be a hard one to beat.” explained Tsunoda. “I remember seeing him in Japan when he was racing in Super Formula and I was in Formula 4. He nearly got the title in his first year in Japan which is really difficult, especially for a European driver. He’s an incredible talent and I’m excited to learn everything I can from him this season, as I’ve already seen how integrated he is within the team.”
Tsunoda has already carried out some tests with Alpha Tauri, driving the 2018 car at Imola, as well as two recent tests with the 2019 car on top of the Young Driver Test at the end of 2020 with the AT01. The Japanese driver says he’s settling in well with his new crew ahead of his debut season: “It’s a very friendly team and I’m confident I can work well with them. I like their passion and how they prepare for events. It’s been a good relationship from the beginning, so it should only improve as we get to learn more about each other through the season. I’ve been lucky enough to spend some time with Scuderia AlphaTauri ahead of the season so I’m already learning a lot from them and continuing to develop strong relationships with the whole team.”
“My main goal for this season is to learn quickly and deliver results as soon as possible. I must always do the best I can and then we will see how the season plays out.”