Yuki Tsunoda needs a “very good manager” to help take care of future contracts and any mistakes he might make, according to Kamui Kobayashi.
In the 2021 season opener at Bahrain, Tsunoda became the 18th Japanese driver to race in Formula 1 while also becoming the first of his nationality to score points since Kobayashi did so in 2012.
AlphaTauri driver Tsunoda finished P9 in Bahrain, rising four places from his starting position, and his impressive performances during the race, plus the testing and practice sessions so far, have led to plenty of talk about how far he could progress.
At just 20 years of age, he is in a good position with a team backed by Red Bull and there are high hopes he can achieve big things. But former Sauber driver Kobayashi, who taught Tsunoda at Toyota when he was aged “14 or 15”, has shared some advice for the young man.
Speaking on the Beyond the Grid podcast, he said: “I’m not worried. I think he can [perform] but he needs to have a very good manager!”
Asked whether that is for the purpose of future contracts, he added: “Yeah, exactly, for the future contracts. Because I think for sure he can have a good result but he could have maybe some mistakes as well.
“In mistakes, he needs to have someone to explain [them] well to the team. He needs a kind of filter to manage himself because he’s still young and doesn’t have much experience in motorsports, so he needs to know someone who can help him to manage his mind and his amount of confidence by himself, so that’s what I would say.
“There’s no doubt in time with his speed he’ll be good one day. But the point is how he manages his image to the team, how he brands his name in Formula 1. I think this is [the] most important [thing], I feel.”
Tsunoda came into this season fresh out of Formula 2, where he finished P3 in the drivers’ championship, but it was a different story in F3 the year prior as he was ninth in the standings.
Kobayashi has faith that Tsunoda can achieve in Formula 1 but it is crucial he “matches” with his car.
“I think he will be good but [it] just matters how he fits and how he can really have a good match with the car and the team as well,” he said.
“It looks like there’s big support from Red Bull and the team so I think he should be okay, but I find that Pierre Gasly is doing really good in the AlphaTauri.
“I think he has a really very tough driver next to him. I think [it is important] he matches with [his] car because he was good in F2 but when you look [at] Formula 3 he was not very special, so I think he can be good if he matches the car.”