Tsunoda gains more F1 experience at Misano

Jon Wilde
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

AlphaTauri have continued to give Yuki Tsunoda some valuable F1 experience with further running in a 2019 car, this time at Misano.

Tsunoda has been fast-tracked to the top level by the Red Bull organisation, taking three consecutive steps up in category with each year having raced in Japanese Formula 4 as recently as 2018.

The 20-year-old finished third behind winner Mick Schumacher in F2 last season with a trio of race wins, which was enough to earn him the seat alongside Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri in place of Daniil Kvyat.

In terms of getting used to F1 machinery, Tsunoda completed a 352km test in a 2018 Toro Rosso at Imola in early November. He then drove the 2020 AlphaTauri in the ‘young driver test’ at Yas Marina two days after the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

And ahead of pre-season testing with the 2021 challenger in Bahrain from March 12-14, AlphaTauri ran the 2019 Toro Rosso with Tsunoda in the cockpit at Imola for two days last week.

His latest outing was on Wednesday, again with the STR14, this time 119 laps of Misano, around an hour away from AlphaTauri HQ at Faenza. He is also expected to drive for a second day on Thursday.

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Despite the track time he is availing himself of, Tsunoda recently admitted mistakes are inevitable once the real thing arrives and he begins life as a Formula 1 racer.

“This will be my rookie season and I will be pushing hard right from the beginning to adapt to the car as much as possible,” said Tsunoda, who has been linked with a potential Red Bull drive within the next few years.

“However, I’m not afraid to make mistakes – I will of course try to limit them – but they are inevitable at the beginning. I am confident I can learn from my mistakes though, as I proved last year in Formula 2.

“I am really happy to have the support of Japanese fans and proud to be the one to bring another Japanese driver on the grid, after Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.

“As for the pressure, I put it on myself, so nothing changes in that regard for me – I want to push myself to succeed.”

Tsunoda revealed he had also worked with a psychological trainer during the 2020 campaign, adding: “We talked a lot about my racing – how I prepare for the race and my attitude during the race – as well as other factors. That resulted in my mentality improving a lot.”

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