Yuki Tsunoda’s Maiden F1 Test with AlphaTauri, Eyeing 2021 Season

Red Bull and Honda's young talent, Yuki Tsunoda, completes the essential 300km for F1 Super Licence eligibility at Imola.


By Ben Bush
Updated on January 17, 2024

Yuki Tsunoda Maiden F1 Test

Japanese racing prospect Yuki Tsunoda has recently experienced his first Formula 1 test drive, potentially paving the way for a full-time position with AlphaTauri in the upcoming year.

Currently holding third place in the F2 championship, Tsunoda undertook his initial F1 test at Imola with AlphaTauri’s 2018 car, navigating through unpredictable weather conditions.

READ MORE: Celebrating the New Knight of Formula 1: Acclaim for Lewis Hamilton’s Historic Achievement

At 20 years old, Tsunoda is a promising figure in Red Bull’s youth driver program, also receiving support from Honda, the engine supplier for both AlphaTauri and Red Bull teams until the end of the following year.

This Imola test session was crucial for Tsunoda, aiming to complete the mandatory 300km in an F1 car to qualify for a super licence, a milestone he successfully achieved.

“Today’s session, my first time in a Formula 1 car, was great fun,” said Tsunoda, who completed 350km in wet and dry conditions at the venue for last week’s Grand Prix.

“It was a whole different world to the F2 car I am racing this year, especially in terms of the increased power and also the braking performance. I didn’t worry about my lap times, I just focused on getting used to the F1 car and completing the 300 kilometres. I’m pleased to have managed it.

” I did a lot of physical training to prepare for this, but even so, I was a little bit tired at the end of the day, but very happy with the experience.”

Team Principal Franz Tost commended the Japanese racer’s performance, noting his impressive speed on dry tires. He remarked, “In his last run, he did a race simulation and he was very consistent, which is clear evidence he had everything under control.”

While AlphaTauri hasn’t scheduled any additional practice sessions for Tsunoda for the rest of this season, the possibility remains open.

However, the team has confirmed that the 20-year-old will participate in a one-day young driver test in the current AT01 car, scheduled for after the season concludes in Abu Dhabi next month.

Who is contending for the second AlphaTauri seat?

AlphaTauri, Red Bull’s sister team, has one available seat for the next season, alongside Pierre Gasly, whose 2021 contract was confirmed recently.

Daniil Kvyat, the 26-year-old Russian driver, currently partners with Gasly. However, his future with the team in 2021 has been uncertain. Despite this, Kvyat had an impressive performance at Imola last weekend, securing eighth in qualifying and finishing fourth in the race.

Yuki Tsunoda is often mentioned as the leading candidate for the seat. However, Alex Albon could also be a contender if he does not maintain his spot at Red Bull’s main team for 2021.

During the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, Team Principal Franz Tost spoke to Sky F1 about Tsunoda’s prospects, stating, “We will see. It has not been decided yet.”

“Yuki doesn’t even have the superlicence. First of all, Yuki must do a good job in Bahrain hopefully he can keep his third position in the Formula 2 championship. Then afterwards we have the young driver test in Abu Dhabi, and then we will decide.”

Tsunoda needs to secure a top-four finish in the F2 standings to accumulate enough points for an automatic qualification for a full F1 super licence in 2021. There are two rounds and four races left, all part of a double-header event in Bahrain, which begins at the end of this month.

Source: Sky Sports F1

Seen in:

About The Author

Chief Editor

Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

Latest Reads