RACE DEBRIEF

    Formula 2 driver Yuki Tsunoda has been heavily linked with a seat at AlphaTauri next season, but if the young Japanese racer doesn't manage to accumulate enough Super Licence points to automatically qualify to drive in Formula 1, AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost says that he has a back-up plan in place.

    AlphaTauri have already announced Pierre Gasly will be staying with the team for 2021, but Daniil Kvyat’s time with the squad is thought to be drawing to a close after he admitted his chances of keeping his seat were "slim".

    READ MORE: Tsunoda part of Red Bull family on merit, says Tost ahead of Japanese star’s Imola shakedown

    Tsunoda, who is favourite to replace Kvyat next year, took pole position and four points in an action-packed F2 qualifying session on Friday at Sakhir. However, the 20-year-old needs to finish fifth or higher in the F2 standings to automatically gain a Super Licence to allow him to race in F1. He is currently fourth, but could slip out of the top five if results go against him this weekend.

    But Tost was unfazed by that possibility as he said in Bahrain: “We have a plan B of course, and there’s absolutely no doubt that in Melbourne [next season], AlphaTauri will have two cars on the starting grid with two very competitive drivers.”

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    Kvyat's future at AlphaTauri is unclear; he finished fifth in FP1 at Sakhir

    Sitting next to him in the pre-Sakhir Grand Prix press conference, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said, wryly: “As we went into this conference, he [Tsunoda] was I think on the pole position, so he’s doing a good job. It’s more of a problem for Franz, I think, he’s obviously glued to that performance.”

    Horner also ruled out a return to AlphaTauri for Alex Albon, who is under pressure to prove he's worthy of keeping his place at Red Bull.

    “I don’t believe he [Albon] forms part of Franz’s plans for next year, so it’s very much a Red Bull seat or a year on the bench,” said Horner.

    Meanwhile Tost also praised Kvyat’s recent performances, as the Russian finished fifth in FP1 at Sakhir and managed a P4 finish at Imola, three races ago, with P12 in Turkey and P11 in Bahrain last time out.

    READ MORE: ‘My dream is to be world champion’ – Yuki Tsunoda on his F1 ambitions and impressing Helmut Marko

    “Dani is experienced, he knows the games and the rules in Formula 1, he is a fast driver, and showed a good performance in the last race and today in FP1,” said Tost. “I hope that also on Sunday he will be quite competitive and for the race in Abu Dhabi, and then we will see.”