Yuki Tsunoda finally managed to get his hands on a Formula 1 car at the Imola circuit on Wednesday. The Japanese F2 driver drove the 2018 Toro Rosso STR13 around the track as a preparation for his potential full-time seat in the AlphaTauri from 2021.
Before knowing more about his F1 entry, one might wonder who is Yuki Tsunoda, and how did he end up being AlphaTauri’s prime candidate for the 2021 season?
Tsunoda is a Red Bull junior driver who made his mark in the Euro Formula Open Championship, which turned quite a few heads from several F3 teams.
By the end of 2018, he managed to get into the first step of the Formula series, which is Formula 3. From there on, it was quite a smooth rise for Tsunoda as he kept churning out notable performances.
Following just one season in F3, Tsunoda moved into F2 with Carlin Racing, where he was teamed up with Jehan Daruvala. Now, even before the end of his first season in F2, he is on the verge of getting himself into Formula 1.
Looking at how the events are building up, Tsunoda will most likely be making his official entry into Formula 1 by 2021. Of course, he deserves it and has enough potential to score big points in the top step of the Formula series.
However, before getting his focus onto Formula 1, Tsunoda still has a task left in order to confirm his seat in AlphaTauri – finishing his Formula 2 season in the top 4.
The F2’s final showdown is set to take place in Bahrain in a couple of weeks’ time. By the looks of it, the championship fight is all but over as Mick Schumacher pulled off a massive lead over the others.
However, the fight for P2 and P3 is still on and could go down to the wire with more drivers getting tempted for those positions.
Could Tsunoda come out as the best? Well, he does have the speed to get there. However, it is also not what Tsunoda needs at the moment. All he needs is to finish the season within the top 4 to automatically qualify for the super license.
However, even holding onto the top 4 could also be a herculean task for Tsunoda, as a minor mistake on the track could leave him vulnerable to drivers like Nikita Mazepin, Robert Shwartzman, and Christian Lundgaard, who are just a few points behind on the table.
Hence, Tsunoda will be entirely focused on playing safe and maintaining the gap over the ones behind him rather than pushing to beat the second-placed Ilott.
Overall, if Tsunoda manages to finish his F2 season in P3, he could be accompanying Mick as the new entrants into Formula 1.
Will things go the way Tsunoda intends to? Well, the answer is just weeks away from knowing.