Tsunoda debut a ‘long-cherished wish’ for Honda
By Mat Coch
Monday 11th January, 2021 - 12:16pm
The Formula 1 debut of Yuki Tsunoda with AlphaTauri this season is the realisation of a long-held ambition for Honda, according to its motorsport boss Masashi Yamamoto.
Tsunoda will become the 21st Japanese driver in world championship history, and the first since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.
The 20-year-old replaces Daniil Kvyat at the junior Red Bull squad after finishing third in the FIA Formula 2 championship last year.
Both of Red Bull’s teams utilise Honda power in their cars, though the company is set to withdraw from F1 at the end of the coming season.
“The birth of a Japanese Formula 1 driver is a long-cherished wish of Honda and we are overjoyed that his qualities are being recognised,” explained Yamamoto in a column for racingnews365.nl.
“We’ve kept an eye on him ever since his Formula 4 time.
“He’s a good driver with good basic speed, great adaptability and an aggressive driving style.
“In Formula 2 he finished third in his first season and achieved a rare high level for a rookie in that class.”
As part of Tsunoda’s formative years, he spent time with tutelage courtesy of Honda in his homeland.
That saw him competing for the Honda Formula Dream project in the Formula 4 Japanese Championship, a competition he won in 2018.
He then headed to Europe, where he was picked up by Red Bull as part of its driver development programme in 2019.
“I feel that the Suzuka Circuit Racing School, for example, in combination with the talent of Tsunoda, have paid off,” Yamamoto reasoned.
“I’m really looking forward to discovering how much we can still achieve with him.
“After a record-breaking year for him, and in just his second year in Europe with a completely different culture, he is highly regarded worldwide,” he added.
“We at Honda are therefore very happy that he has obtained a superlicense.”
Tsunoda’s F1 career is scheduled to start at the Australian Grand Prix in March, though strong speculation suggests the calendar will undergo a reshuffle well before then.