Tsunoda set for F1 test debut at Imola next month

Red Bull junior Yuki Tsunoda will make his Formula 1 test debut at Imola next month with Scuderia AlphaTauri.

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Tsunoda, 20, currently sits third in the F2 championship standings with two rounds remaining, and is scheduled to feature in the end-of-year F1 rookie test in Abu Dhabi.

The Honda-backed youngster has been a member of Red Bull’s junior programme since the end of 2018, and is known to be in contention for a seat with AlphaTauri in 2021.

AlphaTauri announced on Twitter on Wednesday that Tsunoda would enjoy his maiden F1 test at Imola on November 4  following the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix the previous week.

The Japanese driver underwent a seat fitting at AlphaTauri’s Faenza factory.

The test will be conducted in the Toro Rosso STR13 car, used in 2018, which is the most recent car that can be used for unlimited private running.

It marks the latest step towards Tsunoda gaining a superlicence required to race in F1.

As well as amassing 40 points through junior categories - something Tsunoda would achieve with a top-five finish in this year’s F2 standings following relaxation of superlicense rules - drivers are required to complete 300km of running in recent F1 machinery.

Despite Honda’s scheduled exit from F1 at the end of the 2021 season, Red Bull has insisted that it will not have any bearing on Tsunoda’s future within its junior programme.

Asked by Motorsport.com about the plans for Tsunoda after Honda’s announcement, AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said driver performance was the only consideration for its line-up moving forward.

"Scuderia AlphaTauri has two fast drivers currently with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat,” Tost said.

"We will do the young driver test day [in Abu Dhabi] with Yuki Tsunoda. This has nothing to do with the decision from Honda that they will not continue after 2021.

"The philosophy at Red Bull is always the performance. And he performs well, and he's doing a really good job, in Formula 2, he has won two races this year, in Spa and Silverstone if I remember right.

"In Austria, he was leading the race in the wet until a few laps because of radio problems he couldn't win this race. He is doing a really good job, and this is decisive, the performance of the driver.

“This was always the philosophy, and this will always stay like it is. And then we will see what Red Bull decides regarding the drivers for 2021."

 
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