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Traffic lights, tacos and moustaches – Getting to know the real Yuki Tsunoda

Staff Writer

Mike Seymour
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Formula 1 drivers are quizzed by scores of journalists at each and every Grand Prix weekend, but rarely do we glean any insight into their personalities and interests. That’s what our new series, Getting to Know, is seeking to change, with RB’s Yuki Tsunoda the first to face our unusual set of questions and reveal more about his life away from the track...

Can you describe yourself in three words?

Ohh, okay, describe myself… I love food, I love activities and… Ohh, this is difficult… Sing well!

What made you fall in love with F1?

I’m not sure I’ve fully fallen in love with F1 yet to be honest! I love to drive. I mean, that’s F1, right? I guess, okay, speed. Beautiful hospitality, lovely atmosphere. I think also I like the team, I like the fact it’s also kind of team work as well. It’s how it looks an individual sport but it’s actually team work.

READ MORE: Tsunoda hopeful RB changes can bring ‘winning mindset’ as team hold lofty ambitions

When and where did you first drive something and how many times did it take you to pass your driving test?

Good question. In Japan, if I remember correctly, you can drive from 20 years old. I drove at 19 years, around May, my birthday, because actually you can start to drive… When I was 19 years old, three months before my birthday, I started to go to the driving school. I had one test, I had one failure, I had a test with my teacher, passenger, and I was driving like a driving test on normal roads, public roads. I ignored one signal and the paper test I wasn’t good, I dropped like 12 times for example. I just ignored it [the signal], I don’t know why, it was still red but I just ignored it.

But the second time you nailed it?

Yeah, other than that I nailed it! Parking, I nailed it.

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Tsunoda made his F1 debut with AlphaTauri – now called RB – back in 2021

Who’s your best friend inside the paddock, and who’s your best friend outside the paddock?

Umm, I’d say Pierre. Pierre is very nice. He was a good team mate. We caught up actually in Dubai as well, so that was nice. Outside? Outside is, I would say, a Japanese driver, Kazuto [Kotaka], he’s like my brother. We hung out already from like four years old, three years old, whatever, it was such a young age. He’s a year older, so we weren’t able to race each other, because he’s a year older and he was always a step higher category than me.

Which three F1 personalities past or present would you invite to a dinner party and why?

The past… I don’t know much about drivers in the past, like history. Who was in the Rush movie?

READ MORE: Ricciardo, Tsunoda and Lawson – Inside the three-way fight for an RB seat in 2025

James Hunt?

James Hunt!

And what about a couple from the current paddock?

It’s very difficult. Who’s there? Hmm. Yeah, of course, Daniel [Ricciardo] for sure. Alex [Albon] and Lando [Norris]. I would put Pierre as well. I know it’s four, but…

If you could go on holiday with a current driver, who would it be and why?

Hmm. I want to try Checo! He knows a lot of beautiful Mexican food and I want to explore… Recently I’m quite into Mexican food as well so I want him to take me to a lot of nice restaurants.

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Ricciardo and his moustache would play a key role in Tsunoda’s F1 band

If you could form an F1 band, who would be involved and what would it be called?

Umm. My band name would be moustache… Ah, Moustache Dreamers! Daniel, with a beautiful moustache, especially Texas – I miss that!

Is he going to be the front man with his moustache?

He sang quite a lot in the car so he’ll be the vocal but I’m not sure if he can sing like a rock, heavy metal something type of song, but anyway… Kevin [Magnussen]. Kevin also has a beautiful moustache. I don’t know what Kevin can do…

READ MORE: Tsunoda admits he needs to control his emotions to be considered for Red Bull promotion after Ricciardo spat

Is that the rule? You need to have a moustache to be in the band…

Yeah! I think Kevin suits quite well with drumming. Who else has a beautiful moustache?

Valtteri Bottas, perhaps?

Yeah, Valtteri! Valtteri for sure on guitar. Who else? Pierre has it but his moustache is a little bit different to my style, or at least my rock band style, it’s a bit out. Sorry for Pierre! I think that’s it.

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Tsunoda is most proud of his performance at last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

What’s your ultimate meal?

It’s such a difficult question! Oh damn. Too much pressure. Okay, for starter, tacos. I’d go pasta as well, like seafood lobster pasta. Main meal, something using Japanese food, wagyu, steak or something like that.

What’s the strangest gift you’ve ever been given by a fan during your time in F1?

Umm. I would say a lovely present I got was nice letters from a young boy, and one kid from Australia last year was a massive fan of me and he had a nice drawing, so I got that one.

READ MORE: Mekies says RB need to see Tsunoda ‘take the next step’ in fourth F1 season

What’s your proudest moment in F1 so far?

My proudest moment… I would say last year, Abu Dhabi race, or qualifying for example… P6. In the race in the end we weren’t able to score P6. If we’d been P6 we would have been able to probably get P7 in the teams’ championship. That was good for the last race of Franz [Tost, former team boss].

Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

In five years I would like to be at least in position that I can fight for a championship.

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