Tsunoda confirmed to replace Kvyat at AlphaTauri

Yuki Tsunoda at the post-season test

AlphaTauri has confirmed young Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda will replace Daniil Kvyat at the team in 2021.

The move has been expected for some time, with the Japanese driver recently testing a 2018 Toro Rosso at Imola.

The 20-year-old also drove the 2020 AlphaTauri at this week’s post-season test, which was topped by Renault’s Fernando Alonso.

Tsunoda set the seventh quickest time at the test in Abu Dhabi as he accustomed himself to the current car and tyres.

“Red Bull has been following Yuki’s career for a while now and I am sure he will be a great asset to our team,” said AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost.

“Watching him in F2 this year, he has demonstrated the right mix of racing aggression and good technical understanding.

“During the test in Imola in November when he drove our 2018 car, his lap times were very consistent over a race simulation, he progressed throughout the day and gave our engineers useful feedback.

“In addition, his integration with the Honda engineers has been seamless, which certainly helps. At the test in Abu Dhabi this week, he proved to be a fast learner and that he is ready to make the step to F1.”

Tsunoda will be the first Japanese driver to compete in Formula 1 since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014, and the first F1 driver born in the 2000s.

A protege of Red Bull and Honda, Tsunoda won the 2018 Japanese F4 championship before moving to Jenzer for the 2019 F3 championship.

He was vaulted into the Carlin team for F2 this year, and won feature races at Spa and Sakhir, and a sprint race at Silverstone en route to third in the championship.

“Like most racing drivers, it has always been my goal to race in F1, so I am very happy with this news,” said Tsunoda, who will partner Pierre Gasly.

“I want to thank Scuderia AlphaTauri, Red Bull and Dr (Helmut) Marko for giving me this opportunity, and of course everyone from Honda, for all their support so far in my career, giving me great opportunities to race in Europe.

“I must also thank the teams that I have raced with to get to this point, particularly Carlin, with whom I have learned so much this year.

“I realise that I will be carrying the hopes of a lot of Japanese F1 fans next year and I will be doing my best for them too.”

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