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

F1 Correspondent & Presenter

Lawrence Barretto

Yuki Tsunoda is to test for AlphaTauri in a 2018-spec car at Imola after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix as team boss Franz Tost and Red Bull consider giving the Honda-backed driver a run in an FP1 session later this year…

The 20-year-old, who is also part of the Red Bull junior programme, is impressing in F2 this year and is currently third in the standings, putting him on course to achieve enough points to earn a Formula 1 Super Licence.

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Last month Honda announced they would withdraw from Formula 1 at the end of the 2021 campaign, which raised questions about Tsunoda’s racing future, given he is also a member of the Honda Formula Dream Project.

However, Tost insisted Tsunoda remains very much on Red Bull’s radar, because they make their driver decisions based on pure talent.

“The Red Bull philosophy is not to bring a driver to AlphaTauri because of political reasons,” Tost told F1TV. “No, a driver comes to AlphaTauri because of his sporting success. It has nothing to do whether Honda continues or not.

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“Yuki Tsunoda is doing a fantastic job in F2, he won two races - one in Spa, one in Silverstone and in Austria in wet conditions he was leading for a long time and because of radio problem, he finished only second.

“He has the natural speed, he has the skills and the rest, we will see.”

Tost said AlphaTauri is planning to “do a 300km test after [the Grand Prix at] Imola” at the same circuit so “that he can do maybe an FP1”. The 300km shakedown will take place on Wednesday November 4.

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Such a test would give him sufficient points to earn a basic Super Licence that makes him eligible to run in FP1 sessions during a Grand Prix weekend.

The plan remains for Tsunoda – who spent Tuesday and Wednesday this week in the factory with the team and completing a seat fit - to run in post-Abu Dhabi young driver test at Yas Island.


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