Honda have let the cat out of the bag, all but confirming that Yuki Tsunoda will be on the Formula 1 grid next season.
The Honda protégé finished third in this year’s Formula 2 championship, taking two race wins with Carlin.
It has been rumoured for several months now that he will be stepping up into Formula 1 next year, signing with Red Bull’s junior team, AlphaTauri.
But while initially those reports included speculation that it was in part to try to persuade Honda to remain in Formula 1, the Japanese manufacturer has since announced that it is quitting the sport at the end of next season.
Instead it is solely Tsunoda’s performances that are set to earn him a spot on the 2021 grid.
Honda’s technical director Toyoharu Tanabe says he is excited to “see” the 20-year-old racing next season.
Asked about next week’s young driver test in which Tsunoda will drive along with Marino Sato, he told the official F1 website: “We will have two Japanese drivers in the AlphaTauri cars, it is quite nice for Japanese racing fans and also Honda.
“Especially Tsunoda who Honda have supported for a long time.
“He did a very good job in Formula 2 this season and he will be able to get his super licence.
“The driver choice is not our responsibility, it is the team’s decision
“It is good to see him in a Formula 1 car next year, so we are so excited.”
Tsunoda will take Daniil Kvyat’s race seat with AlphaTauri having already confirmed Pierre Gasly.
Kvyat says he can’t understand why no announcement has been forthcoming given that the decision has already been made.
“I don’t know why it takes so long to communicate certain things that have already been decided,” he said.
“We have already had, let’s say, a preliminary conversation, and soon you will know everything else but I think it’s better to ask that question to Helmut Marko.”
Red Bull and AlphaTauri are the only two teams on the grid still to confirm their complete line ups.
Red Bull are waiting until after this weekend’s season finale in Abu Dhabi to decide Alex Albon’s fate with the Tsunoda announcement perhaps coming after that.