Heading into his first season in Formula 1, Yuki Tsunoda says he will push hard from the start and is not afraid to make mistakes.
Joining the grid to replace Daniil Kvyat at AlphaTauri on the back of an excellent season in Formula 2, big things are expected of Tsunoda by Red Bull.
Many within the team, including Dr Helmut Marko, feel he is as talented as Max Verstappen. Despite this, the Japanese driver says he does not feel under pressure to perform and will not be playing it safe.
“No, not really, this will be my rookie season and I will be pushing hard right from the beginning to adapt to the car as much as possible,” he said.
“However, I’m not afraid to make mistakes – I will of course try and limit them – but they are inevitable at the beginning. I am confident I can learn from my mistakes though, as I proved last year in Formula 2.
“I am really happy to have the support of Japanese fans and I’m proud to be the one to bring another Japanese driver on the grid, after Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.
“As for the pressure, I put it on myself, so nothing changes in that regard for me – I want to push myself to succeed.”
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) January 28, 2021
Tsunoda will become the 21st Japanese driver to compete in Formula 1 and the sixth to do so in the 21st Century.
The 20-year-old credits one of those he is following in the footsteps of, Satoru Nakajima, with saving his racing career back in 2016.
“The worst was in 2016, when I was doing the Honda Junior Driver Test and I came third,” he said when asked to pick out the best and worst moments of his career.
“Normally, Honda takes the first two drivers to move to Formula 4. I had discussed the test with my father and had decided that if I did not get through, I would give up racing.
“But the person in charge was former F1 driver Satoru Nakajima. He was watching from the outside of the chicane and he recommended me to Honda and that’s why I got a Formula 4 drive with Honda. So it was down to him.
“The best moment was Monza in Formula 3 in 2019. I think I would not have been in F2 the following year without that win. It was my first win in Europe, so I have many happy memories from that day.”