AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost expects Yuki Tsunoda to find it “very tough” to adapt to life in F1, despite his prodigious talent.
Dr Helmut Marko, head of Red Bull’s driver development programme, even thinks the Japanese youngster could be a potential 2022 team-mate for Max Verstappen in the senior team owned by the Austrian energy drink giant.
But while the 20-year-old’s driving prowess is not believed to be in question, Tost thinks he may face a challenge in having to deal with everything else that goes on within the Formula 1 paddock, certainly at the start of the 2021 campaign.
“The first year for a newcomer in Formula 1 will be very tough,” said Tost, quoted by GP Fans. “For example, you come to Melbourne having jet lag, a new race track and all-day-long media and marketing appointments.
“Also, the technical side of the race car takes a while for a driver to get a handle on these processes.”
It is not as though Tsunoda will have too long to integrate himself before the competitive action begins, albeit he spent a day with AlphaTauri driving a 2018 car at Imola during the autumn and also the 2020 version in the post-season ‘young driver test’ at Yas Marina.
But pre-season testing for the forthcoming season has been reduced to only three days.
“[Lack of testing] means for a young driver he needs a lot of mental strength, but also it will be very physically challenging for the first races,” added Tost.
However, the 64-year-old Austrian also made clear he expects Tsunoda to start bringing home points when he gets to the circuits he is already more familiar with in Europe.
“It will be hard in the beginning when he doesn’t know the race tracks,” said Tost.
“But with the second part of the season, when he knows Barcelona, Silverstone, Austria and Hungary where he raced in Formula 2, I hope he will challenge Pierre and be close to him.
“My expectation is that he then also makes it to qualifying three and starts collecting points for the team.”