Yuki Tsunoda Explains Motivation Behind Choosing #22 in F1: ‘A Driver I respect a Lot’

Published 02/19/2021, 4:14 AM EST
Formula One F1 – Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – December 11, 2020 AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda arrives at the Yas Marina Circuit Hamad I Mohammed/Pool via REUTERS


We all are eagerly awaiting to see Yuki Tsunoda line up on the grid in the upcoming season. The Japanese driver is humble besides being quick on the racing track. Ahead of his debut, his car will don the number 22 on its nose. And he’s revealed the reason for choosing that number.

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The FIA introduced a rule in 2014, where a driver will select a number between 2 and 99 to be used for the entirety of their F1 careers. The number one is reserved for the reigning world champion, even though it hasn’t been ever used by Lewis Hamilton.

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – DECEMBER 15: Yuki Tsunoda of Scuderia AlphaTauri and Japan during the F1 Young Drivers Test at Yas Marina Circuit on December 15, 2020 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)

Yuki raced with the number 11 for the whole of his karting career, but that number was not available. So, he picked a number that was akin to it –

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“My number when I was racing in karting was 11, but in F1 that’s already taken by Sergio Perez. So, I doubled it to become 22, which I also liked because it was the number of Jenson Button – a driver I respect a lot – when he won the Formula 1 World Championship in 2009. It’s also a number used by Japanese driver Takuma Sato.”

The FIA allows an F1 driver to retain his number for two years after his last race start. Since Button last drove at the 2017 Monaco GP, it was available and snatched by Tsunoda.

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – AUGUST 09: Race winner Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Carlin celebrates on the podium. (Photo by Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

F2 experience prepared Yuki Tsunoda for F1

The 20-year-old had a dream debut outing in the Formula 2 championship last season. He showcased his remarkable tire management skills on his way to finishing 3rd in the standings. Another bonus for him was that the F2 race weekends were run simultaneously to their F1 counterparts.

So, being already accustomed to tracks and the Pirelli compounds will help him carry over that knowledge with AlphaTauri.

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BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN – DECEMBER 06: 2020 F2 third placed driver, F2 driver of the Year and winner of the Anthoine Hubert Rookie of the Year prize, Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Carlin poses for a photo with his trophies during the Formula 2 Championship Prize Giving Ceremony at Bahrain International Circuit on December 06, 2020 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Joe Portlock – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images)

“I’ve managed to experience many of the tracks, and I’ve also learnt a lot about tire management. F2 gives you a good understanding of working with a racing team at this high level and I’m excited to continue this development at Scuderia AlphaTauri,” said Tsunoda.

The potential of this Red Bull academy graduate is limitless. Hopefully, he lives up to all the hype and opens a lot of doors for other aspiring Asian drivers in F1.

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DIVE DEEPER

Yuki Tsunoda Reveals ‘Best Driver in the World’ Lewis Hamilton Propelled Him To F1

3 months ago

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Bharat Aggarwal

670 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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