AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost is a huge fan of Japanese racer Yuki Tsunoda and expects to have him at his team “sooner or later”.
Honda are backing the Japanese driver through his junior racing career, hoping to realise their long-established dream of having a Japanese driver in a top Formula 1 seat, and their relationship with Red Bull and AlphaTauri as their engine supplier provides a clear path for Tsunoda to make it into Formula 1.
Tsunoda finished P9 in the F3 Championship last year, but in 2020 he is starting to come to life with Carlin following his promotion to F2.
He has appeared on the podium three times so far this season, including taking his first win during the Silverstone feature race.
Tsunoda can also count himself unlucky in finishing P2 during the wet Styrian Grand Prix Feature Race after a team radio failure meant he came into the pits far too late and lost out on an almost certain victory.
But his endeavors are certainly not going unnoticed, and Tost expects to have Tsunoda as an AlphaTauri driver “sooner or later”.
“First of all, Red Bull and Honda are supporting Tsunoda because he is a fantastic driver,” he told the Italian version of Motorsport.com.
“He is a very talented driver, he has so many qualities that he showed in Formula 3 last year and that he is showing again this year.
“I remember the race in Austria, when he ran in wet track conditions. He was at the top of the leaderboard, he was leading the race, but due to a radio failure he was called to the pits too late to make the pit stop. And anyway, he finished second. Then at Silverstone he won the race.
“He is still improving his performance, he is becoming more and more experienced and I expect to have him, sooner or later, in AlphaTauri, clearly.”
— Honda Racing F1 (@HondaRacingF1) July 11, 2020
There may well be an opening for Tsunoda in 2021 based on proceedings so far this year.
Pierre Gasly has been outperforming Daniil Kvyat consistently at AlphaTauri this year, scoring 14 points to the Russian’s two, which may prompt Red Bull and Honda to take a chance on Tsunoda in Kvyat’s place.
Alex Albon has also been struggling to find form at Red Bull, so another reshuffle of the drivers between the teams may be on the cards, creating an opportunity for Tsunoda.
Tsunoda himself has also spoken of his hopes of securing an AlphaTauri seat next year.
“For sure I need wins,” he was quoted by Motorsport Week.
“I already lost quite a lot of points at the beginning of the season.
“I think the biggest thing is I need consistency, [in Austria we got] zero points, then the second [race a] podium, and then zero points, now we got a first podium in first place. It’s still not consistent.
“I expect a lot of wins in the future, and to have good points for the drivers’ standings and hopefully I can get [a] seat for 2021 in AlphaTauri.”
Tsunoda is currently P4 in the F2 standings, 39 points behind the Championship leader, former Red Bull turned Ferrari junior Callum Ilott.