Age is just a number for rookie Tsunoda

Michelle Foster
Yuki Tsunoda Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri AT02

Pierre Gasly has admitted Yuki Tsunoda was “very impressive” in Formula 2 last season

The youngest driver on the 2021 grid and the first to be born in 2000, Yuki Tsunoda says it’s useless putting emphasis on age, just look what Max Verstappen achieved.

This season Tsunoda is following in Verstappen’s footsteps, arriving on the Formula 1 grid with Red Bull’s junior team, AlphaTauri.

The 20-year-old will be the youngest driver in the field but by no means the youngest ever to race in the sport.

That record belongs to Verstappen, the Dutchman 17 years and 166 days when he lined up on the Albert Park grid in 2015.

Speaking at the launch of AlphaTauri’s 2021 challenger, the AT02, Tsunoda said: “I don’t think it’s worth putting too much emphasis on age – as Max Verstappen was 17 when he started – but I feel it’s an honour to be the first driver on the grid to be born in 2000.”

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The 21st Japanese driver to enter Formula 1, Tsunoda’s career has been backed by Honda.

But while some speculate that it was the Honda link up that led to his AlphaTauri drive, P3 in last year’s Formula 2 championship, in which he took three wins, shows he has ability.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

This season, his first in the sport, the goal is to “learn quickly and deliver results as soon as possible” but the ultimate goal: “I just want to beat the other drivers and I also want to be the first Japanese driver to win a race in Formula 1.”

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