Honda motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto can’t wait to see Yuki Tsunoda in Formula 1 action and fulfill Honda’s “long-cherished wish”.
Not since 2014 has there been a Japanese driver in Formula 1, that being Kamui Kobayashi who last competed for Caterham. But that wait will be ended by Yuki Tsunoda who partners Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri for 2021.
The 20-year-old has been on a sensational rise up the junior ranks since arriving in Europe only a few years ago, and a P3 finish in the 2020 F2 Championship was enough for the Honda-backed racer to get his debut in Formula 1.
Yamamoto said it was a “long-cherished wish” for Honda to bring a Japanese driver into Formula 1 and he can’t wait to see Tsunoda unleashed.
“Something I am very much looking forward to in the new Formula 1 season is the debut of Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri,” said Yamamoto in a personal column, as quoted by Racingnews365.nl.
“The birth of a Japanese Formula 1 driver is a long-cherished wish of Honda and we are delighted that his qualities will be recognised.
“We’ve been keeping an eye on him since his Formula 4 season. He is a good driver with a good base speed, great adaptability and an aggressive driving style. In Formula 2 he finished third in his first season and he achieved a rare high level for a debutant in that class.
“I feel that the Suzuka Circuit Racing School, for example, combined with the talent of Tsunoda, have borne fruit. I’m really looking forward to discovering how much we can still achieve with him.
“After a record-breaking year for him, and in just his second year in Europe with a completely different culture, he is highly regarded worldwide. We as Honda are therefore very pleased that he has been granted a superlicence.”
Gasly had also been keeping an eye on the progress of his new team-mate, saying he was impressed with Tsunoda’s F2 performances.
“I always look at Formula 2 and Formula 3. I like to watch that, because those races are often quite entertaining,” he told Motorsport.com.
“And I think he [Tsunoda] did very well. He’s won a couple of races and been on pole a couple of times.
“In a few moments he dropped a lot of points for the Championship. I don’t know exactly what the reasons were. Either that was because of something out of his control or it was because of something he had done himself. But on the whole, in my opinion, he has performed very well.”