Tsunoda: I had to deliver like Norris and Russell

Date published: November 22 2020

Yuki Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda says that he felt like he had to do as well as Lando Norris and George Russell did in their rookie F2 seasons to make it to F1.

Tsunoda is set to join the Formula grid next season, replacing Daniil Kvyat at AlphaTauri after impressing in this year’s Formula 2 campaign, in which he currently occupies P3 in the standings.

Prior to it, Helmut Marko gave him the goal of finishing the season in the top five in order to obtain a Super Licence and immediately move up to F1.

While the Japanse driver thought it was a big ask, he felt that it was something he had to achieve given that Norris and Russell both did.

“I was given information from Helmut that I had to do well this season and that I would need to be fifth to get a Super Licence,” Tsunoda told F1.com.

“He said if I was fifth, then I would qualify to drive in Formula 1, but if I was not, then I would need to drive in Japan again. It was strict, but I agree with him.

“If you’re a good driver, like George Russell, Lando Norris or Charles Leclerc, then I think you only need one year in F2 – they didn’t need two or three years.

“You have to perform big in every single race. That is pressure, but it’s a good mentality. This year has not been too bad, but we’ll see what happens in the future.

“My dream is to be a Formula 1 world champion and if I’d struggled in Formula 2, then this would have been really difficult. I had to deliver in my rookie season, like Lando Norris and George Russell did.”

The motorsport family went racing for Anthoine Hubert.

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At one point, during his time in F3, it looked unlikely that Tsunoda would ever make it to F1, as he scored points in just two of the first seven races.

However, he then embarked on an excellent run of form that earned him a promotion, and he says that improvement was largely due to the tragic passing of Anthoine Hubert.

“I wasn’t thinking much about the results at first. I was just pushing hard and waiting to see how it went. Spa was a real turning point for me in 2019,” he said.

“We tragically lost Anthoine Hubert that weekend and he played a part in my results afterwards. I learned from him and raced for him and in Race 2, the day after his accident, I got a podium for the first time that season.

“The round after in Monza, I got another podium and my first win. It was a real turning point for my driving performances. That made Helmut a little bit impressed.”

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