Young drivers ‘underestimate physicality of F1 cars’

Frank Parker
Franz Tost, AlphaTauri principal, without a mask at the British GP. July 2021

Franz Tost has said that younger drivers don’t quite realise how physical a Formula 1 is to drive until they sit in the cockpit.

Red Bull has long promoted and nurtured younger drivers into their academy and use their sister team AlphaTauri to ready them for the senior squad. Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz, and four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel all came up through the ranks of the then named Toro Rosso.

Yuki Tsunoda joined the grid with AlphaTauri last season and initially struggled to get up to speed with the new machinery. There were high hopes pinned on the Japanese driver having finished third in Formula 2 the season before.

Tost explained that it wasn’t just his rookie driver who struggled to adapt, but the Austrian says that all young drivers don’t anticipate the challenge.

“It’s not only Yuki who underestimates how physical it is to drive a Formula 1 car,” said Tost as quoted by RacingNews365.com.

Yuki Tsunoda in his new AlphaTauri race suit. February 2022.

“It’s really for all the young drivers, when they [race for] the first time in a Formula 1 car, because this is another dimension.

“I always tell them when they come to Formula 1: ‘Now your real hard work will start. Everything you did before was kindergarten. Now you have to start working, [and] be disciplined’.”

Tost acknowledged that his driver improved during the season

“Yuki improved a lot during the last season.”

“It’s not only Yuki who has problems at the beginning, when he is new in Formula 1, from the physical side,” Tost added.

“Because all the forces which are coming from braking, from the corners, are very, very high, and I don’t know any driver who came to Formula 1 without having any physical problems. It’s a special training.”

Modern F1 has seen cars reach incredible speeds, and the sheer G-forces a driver can experience mean that a driver needs to be at peak strength and fitness to compete.

Testing for 2022 has been reduced to six days overall and Tost explains that in previous seasons, there were more opportunities for a driver to get acclimatised to the experience.

“It was easier, let me say, 10 [or] 15 years ago – there were [many] more tests beforehand,” Tost explained.

“Nowadays the drivers have to go more to the gym, have to do a lot of physical training, and we must not forget that these cars are the fastest cars ever.”

Tsunoda did get overshadowed by his more experienced teammate Pierre Gasly, but results and performances did seem to pick up in the second half of the season after the Japanese driver moved closer to the teams factory in Faenza.

The AlphaTauri boss praised Tsunoda’s work ethic and progress and is expecting a good season from the Japanese driver in 2022.

“Yuki is doing a good job,” the Team Principal said.

“He understands it. He trained a lot during the winter months. And of course from the physical side, he is much more on a much higher level as it was last year.”