Yuki Tsonoda is today set to take a step closer to the Formula 1 grid as he completes a test session with AlphaTauri.
The Japanese driver is slated to perform 300 kilometres of running at Imola in order to check off the requirements needed for him to take part in Free Practice 1 in Abu Dhabi later in the year.
Tsunoda is one of the candidates for the spare seat alongside Pierre Gasly at Red Bull’s junior team next season.
“Yuki Tsunoda has to get used to a Formula 1 car,” said Franz Tost, AlphaTauri Team Principal.
“It is his first outing in a Formula 1 car. It’s here in Imola.
“It’s not an easy track, and I will instruct him in the best possible way what to do, and then we want to do a 300kms run with him, just to get the permission from the FIA to do eventually a FP1 in Bahrain or Abu Dhabi.
“We will see if it’s necessary. It depends where he ends up in the F2 drivers’ championship.
“If he is in the first four, he gets a superlicence, if he is fifth and maybe he needs two FP1s, because they will be a point as well.”
Tsunoda is one of a number of drivers linked to the seat currently occupied by Daniil Kvyat.
The Russian remains an obvious candidate, though Alex Albon has also been linked with the drive should he be demoted to the junior team (as was the case for Gasly in 2019).
“It’s better to have a queue instead of having nothing,” Tost reasoned of the apparent driver logjam.
“I think the decision will be made soon, a decision from Red Bull, and then we will see.
“We are not in a hurry. If it’s before the end of the season, it’s fine.
“It depends also I think where Yuki Tsunoda ends in the championship, because it is a very important factor.”
The 20-year-old currently lies third in the FIA Formula 2 Championship with two rounds (four races) remaining, having taken two victories from the 20 races to date.