Franz Tost has insisted Yuki Tsunoda is making sufficient improvement to justify the decision to retain him at AlphaTauri next year.
On the day when the world was waiting for news of George Russell’s imminent confirmation as a Mercedes driver, AlphaTauri got in first and announced they were keeping Tsunoda and Pierre Gasly for another season.
Gasly’s place was never in doubt, of course, with Red Bull having already revealed they were extending Sergio Perez’s contract alongside Max Verstappen for 2022.
But Tsunoda’s position was much less certain, for he has been something of a disappointment in his rookie campaign given the reputation with which he arrived into Formula 1 as a series of crashes have slowed his development.
However, with 18 points scored, he has made a reasonable contribution to AlphaTauri’s tally of 84 in the Constructors’ Championship – and team principal Tost says the reports he receives from colleagues about the 21-year-old from Japan reflect encouraging progress.
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“I’m pleased to announce we will keep both our drivers here at Scuderia AlphaTauri for the 2022 season,” began Tost in the team’s announcement.
“Pierre’s development in the years has been impressive and in his time with us he has managed to make it to all three steps of the podium.
“Starting with the second place in Brazil in 2019, he then won our home grand prix the following year at Monza and this year he has already achieved a podium with a third place in Baku.
“I am confident there is more to come and this is why we are excited to have him with us for another season.
“Furthermore, he is using his experience in F1 to help Yuki with his development. This year we have seen that the positive relationship between the two, made of a competitiveness on-track and a friendship off-track, has proven effective for the team.
“Yuki has joined the team as a rookie and is continuing to learn every day. The feedback from the engineers shows he is absorbing all the information given to him and improving.
“As a rookie, Yuki is only at the beginning of this journey, so it’s good that he can continue what we’ve started together.
“It’s great for us to be securing our driver line-up so early in the season, so we can now focus on the rest of 2021 when we are in a tough fight in the midfield pack.”
The Planet F1 verdict: