Rookie Tsunoda excited to learn from ‘incredibly talented’ Gasly in debut F1 season
Yuki Tsunoda says he is “excited to learn everything I can” from AlphaTauri team mate Pierre Gasly, as he prepares to embark on his maiden Formula 1 campaign.
The 20-year-old Red Bull and Honda-backed driver got his call up after an impressive Formula 2 campaign, and in replacing Daniil Kvyat, becomes the first Japanese driver in F1 since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.
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AlphaTauri have done their best to get him up to speed, running him in last year’s car at the post-season Abu Dhabi test, as well as three runs in old machinery at Imola and Misano – but he knows it’ll be a steep learning curve and is prepared to learn all he can from Gasly, who took his maiden race win at Monza last year.
“Pierre is really fast and already has a win under his belt in F1,” said Tsunoda on the day AlphaTauri launched their 2021 challenger, the AT02. “The first target for every driver is to beat your team mate but he will be a hard one to beat.
“I remember seeing him in Japan when he was racing in Super Formula and I was in Formula 4. He nearly got the title in his first year in Japan which is really difficult, especially for a European driver. He’s an incredible talent and I’m excited to learn everything I can from him this season, as I’ve already seen how integrated he is within the team.”
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Tsunoda has been on a trajectory for F1 for less than two years, culminating in third overall in his first F2 campaign in 2020 – and he says he can’t wait to get started, describing his role as a Formula 1 driver as an “honour”.
“I’m really excited to get started and am particularly looking forward to racing in Suzuka, in front of the Japanese fans,” he said. “The last time I raced in Suzuka was in Formula 4, so it will be a big difference, but I’m really excited to now get the opportunity to represent my country in F1.
“I am also looking forward to visiting many new countries and racing on different tracks. If I had to pick one of the circuits I’m most looking forward to, apart from Japan, it would be Monaco – there is so much history there and it’s a very challenging circuit.
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“The biggest thing for me though, will be lining up on the grid with so many superstars of the sport – it’s an absolute honour to be competing against some of the greatest drivers in the world.”