Nobuharu Matsushita, a compatriot and former rival of Yuki Tsunoda, says the AlphaTauri driver’s biggest strength is how he handles mistakes.
Tsunoda has already hugely impressed since joining the Formula 1 grid, going second fastest of anyone in pre-season testing before scoring two points at the season opener in Bahrain.
Prior to his first race, he said that he wasn’t afraid to make mistakes in his rookie year, and Matsushita, who raced against him in Formula 2, says that’s a big strength of his.
“I think Tsunoda’s good point is he doesn’t care,” he told Motorsport.com.
“If he makes a mistake, he just moves onto the next one. This is really important.
“Every time you make a mistake, most people think, ‘next time, I cannot make a mistake.’ But he just says, ‘I made a mistake, I learned’ and moves on. That’s his big strength.
“AlphaTauri is quite competitive, easily good enough for the top 10, so I think he’s going to have an amazing season. And I know how quick Gasly is, I raced with him [in 2015 and 2016] in GP2.
“Let’s see what Tsunoda can do against him. I’m really excited to see.”
Tsunoda’s rise to F1 was nothing short of meteoric as he was given the promotion after spending just one year in Formula 3 and one in F2.
Matsushita competed against him in both years and says that the progress that the AlphaTauri driver made in that time was considerable.
“In 2019 he was doing F3 and that was the first time I met him,” he added.
“We did a race together in Euroformula Open [at the Hungaroring]. That time he was not that competitive, did quite a lot of mistakes, but I think last year working with Carlin he improved a lot and he became much calmer.
“In qualifying, there’s no doubt he can be quick. In the races, he was often kind of conservative in the beginning and then pushing at the end because he still has the tyre.
“In F1 you have to be aggressive immediately from the start. That’s the thing he needs to improve. But I think he can do it.”