Finally, Formula 1’s worst kept secret has been confirmed. Yuki Tsunoda is going to make his much-awaited Formula 1 debut with AlphaTauri next season. The Japanese driver will drive alongside race-winner Pierre Gasly as his teammate.
He jumps to F1, after replacing Daniil Kvyat, after a very successful rookie season in F2. Yuki finished just 15 points off eventual champion and fellow 2021 debutant, Mick Schumacher. Considering that his German rival was a sophomore, it is an impressive achievement to finish 3rd in F2.
What is his background? What can we expect from Yuki Tsunoda?
The Red Bull Academy graduate made the step up from F3 to F2 this season. It was surprising on many levels as he could only muster a P9 finish in F3. So clearly, there were doubts regarding his abilities. Being a Honda-backed driver from Japan, many dismissed his presence in the Red Bull family only to please the engine manufacturers.
But Helmut Marko had complete faith in him and was instrumental in backing him. And he vindicated that faith this season. Although he started the season slowly, he gradually grew more and more comfortable inside the car.
To the point where he began beating title rivals Callum Ilott and Mick to himself become a late contender. He put in a total of 3 race victories this F2 season. After grabbing a podium at the season-finale in Sakhir, he finished just a point behind runner-up Ilott. Not only that, but he also won a couple of individual honors this past week.
Known for his excellent use of tires, he won Pirelli’s driver of the year award for his tire management. And to put the cherry on top, he also took home the newly created Anthoine Hubert Award. The award, in honor of the late French driver, goes to the Best ‘Rookie of the Year’.
He is currently taking part in the ‘Young Driver Test’ in Abu Dhabi with AlphaTauri. Many already see him as the future driver for parent-team Red Bull already. Fans hope he can emulate his maiden F2 season in F1 and grab the hot seat to partner Max in 2022.