Tsunoda will be in AlphaTauri “sooner or later”, says Tost

AlphaTauri Formula 1 boss Franz Tost expects to see Japanese F2 racer Yuki Tsunoda driving one of the team’s cars “sooner or later.”

Tsunoda will be in AlphaTauri “sooner or later”, says Tost

Tsunoda is a protege of both Red Bull and Honda, and is widely regarded as one of the best current prospects from Japan.

He finished ninth in his rookie season in the FIA F3 series last year, having scored one race victory in the Monza sprint event for the unfancied Jenzer Motorsport squad.

The 20-year-old moved up to F2 with Carlin this year, winning the Sunday sprint race at the 70th Anniversary Grand Prix meeting at Silverstone, while logging another two feature race podium finishes and taking pole at the second Austrian event.

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Tsunoda currently lies fourth in the championship, in line with the target needed to obtain a superlicence, 39 points behind series leader Callum Ilott.

Honda is understandably keen to fast track a Japanese driver into F1, and last year two-time Super Formula champion Naoki Yamamoto was given an FP1 session with the then Toro Rosso team at the Japanese GP.

However, at 32, Yamamoto - also a title-winner in SUPER GT - is generally regarded as having missed his opportunity to switch to F1.

Tsunoda has emerged as the driver that both Honda and Red Bull would like to promote.

Yuki Tsunoda, Carlin

Yuki Tsunoda, Carlin

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Thus far this year he has had the edge on Carlin teammate and fellow Red Bull-backed driver Jehan Daruvala, while the prospects of Juri Vips earning a superlicence have been compromised by COVID-19 impacting his ability to race in Super Formula.

Tost made it clear that Tsunoda is very much on the radar at Red Bull after his recent strong performances in F2.

“First of all, Red Bull and Honda are supporting Tsunoda because he is a fantastic driver,” said the Austrian. “He is a really talented driver, very high-skilled, and he showed this in Formula 3 last year, he showed this this year.

“I remember back at the race in Austria in the wet conditions when he was leading the race but then unfortunately because of some radio problems he came in for the tyres too late, for the pitstop too late, and then he finished second. And then in Silverstone he won the race.

“And he is also improving his performance. He is becoming more and more experienced and I expect him earlier or later in a car from AlphaTauri, of course.

Nobuharu Matsushita is another Japanese driver to have won in F2 this year, taking a shock victory in the Barcelona feature race from 18th on the grid, but the 26-year-old is in his fifth season at GP2/F2 level and is also thought unlikely to progress to F1.

Nobuharu Matsushita, MP Motorsport

Nobuharu Matsushita, MP Motorsport

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

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