20-year-old Yuki Tsunoda has been heavily rumored to fill the second driver’s seat at AlphaTauri next year. The current F2 racer, a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, has revealed that he was dissuaded by Red Bull‘s advisor Dr.Helmut Marko from driving at the EuroFormula Open. However, he was given an opportunity to test out F1 machinery instead.
Tsunoda races for the Carlin team in the F2 championship. With a two-month break in the F2 calendar, the Japanese driver revealed that his team offered him an opportunity to compete for them in the EuroFormula Open championship, something he had also done last year.
Tsunoda said, “I got invited by Carlin for Euroformula Open, they wanted me to drive in Euroformula Open, a race in Spa.”
However, Dr. Marko’s answer was clear. Tsunoda said, “I asked Helmut, and he said no. You just have to focus on Formula 1, nothing otherwise.
“Just focus on Formula 1, to reach the 300km today. Nothing like this.”
The aforementioned statement is a reference to Yuki getting the chance to test the 2018 spec Toro Rosso. The Japanese driver tested out the STR13 on November 4 in Imola.
Driving around the Imola circuit for 300kms made Tsunoda eligible to participate in an F1 weekend in the future. He may certainly get an FP1 outing before the season ends, as he seems to be the leading candidate to drive alongside Gasly next year.
However, he still needs to focus on ending the F2 season on a high note.
The Carlin driver currently sits in 3rd place on the F2 Drivers’ championship standings with 147 points. He is currently the leading candidate to partner Gasly next year.
Although a title shot may be out of his reach, Tsunoda needs a brace of fifth place finishes in order to get him the required amount of super license points to compete in F1 next year.
Hearing Tsunoda’s statements, it definitely sounds like he is up for it.
He said, “I already prepared for that mentality from January. So I don’t feel much. I didn’t even feel much stress about that.”
Furthermore, he said, “I have to focus on free practice in Formula 2, the first corner, and first braking zone, what I have to do. I’ve got to focus session by session, lap by lap.”
With four races (two features and two sprint), it’ll be interesting to see how Tsunoda ends the season.