Yuki Tsunoda has been handed a third season with AlphaTauri, although it must be said the team’s announcement is more affirmation than surprise to the paddock.
Tsunoda joined AlphaTauri in Formula 1 after just one season in Formula 2 and was declared the “the best rookie F1 has had for years” by F1 managing director Ross Brawn when he scored on his debut at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.
But what followed was a year of hard-fought lessons as Tsunoda tested both the track’s limits and Helmut Marko’s.
This season the 22-year-old has cut out a lot of those mistakes, although still earned team boss Franz Tost’s ire when he was penalised for ignoring yellow flags during a practice at the Italian Grand Prix.
Despite that criticism being fresh in the memory, AlphaTauri have kept faith with the driver giving Tsunoda for a third season in Formula 1.
“I want to say a huge thank you to Red Bull, Honda and Scuderia AlphaTauri for continuing to give me the opportunity to drive in F1,” he said.
“Having moved to Italy last year, to be closer to the factory, I really feel part of the team and am glad that I get to carry on racing with them in 2023.
“Of course, our 2022 season isn’t over yet and we’re still pushing hard in the midfield battle, so I’m fully focused on finishing it on a high and then we will look forward to next year.”
Tost, who has worked with the likes of Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, has often been applauded for his management of F1’s young stars and Tsunoda is no different.
The team boss took the driver under his wing last season when he moved to Faenza, not only helping with his fitness but also the mental side of the game.
A firm believer in drivers needing three years to prove themselves, Tost says next season will be Tsunoda’s true test.
“As we’ve seen since he joined us last year, Yuki is a very talented driver and has improved a lot this season,” said the Austrian.
“The pace he has shown recently is clear evidence of a steep learning curve, which proves he deserves a seat in F1, and I still expect some strong results from him in the last six races of 2022.
“As I always say, a driver needs at least three years to fully get to grips with Formula 1, so I’m pleased he’s been given the time to show his full potential.
“In addition, it’s a testament to Dr. Marko and his driver programme that we’re able to bring these young talents up from the junior categories and develop them.
“I’d like to join Yuki in thanking Red Bull, AlphaTauri as well as Honda, for their continuous support and for allowing him to stay with us for another year.”
His team-mate has yet to be confirmed with Pierre Gasly rumours to be off to Alpine with Nyck de Vries taking his AlphaTauri seat.