Franz Tost, the Team Principal of Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda, says he expects to see Yuki Tsunoda join his team sooner rather than later, with the Japanese racer impressing during his rookie FIA Formula 2 campaign.
Tsunoda, racing for Carlin Motorsport this year after stepping up from FIA Formula 3, has had a quietly impressive start to the season with a win coming at Silverstone, while a second win was denied to him at the Red Bull Ring through no fault of his own following a radio failure.
Honda have long been seeking for a Japanese racer to join Formula 1, and the twenty-year-old Red Bull Junior Team driver is looking the most realistic prospect to join the grid from Japan, with Tost expecting him to be a part of his team when it does materialize.
“First of all, Red Bull and Honda are supporting Tsunoda because he is a fantastic driver,” said Tost to the Italian version of Motorsport.com. “He is a very talented driver, he has so many qualities that he showed in Formula 3 last year and that he is showing again this year.
“I remember the race in Austria, when he ran in wet track conditions. He was at the top of the leaderboard, he was leading the race, but due to a radio failure he was called to the pits too late to make the pit stop. And anyway, he finished second. Then at Silverstone he won the race.
“He is still improving his performance, he is becoming more and more experienced and I expect to have him, sooner or later, in AlphaTauri, clearly.”
Tsunoda was given lofty targets ahead of the season by Red Bull to keep himself a part of the Junior Team, and he currently sits fourth in the standings after the first six races.
He acknowledges that he needs to find consistency in his driving and take more race victories if he is to make that final step into Formula 1, although he admits he does have one eye on that AlphaTauri ride for next season.
“For sure I need wins,” Tsunoda is quoted as saying by Motorsport Week. “I already lost quite a lot of points at the beginning of the season.
“I think the biggest thing is I need consistency, [in Austria we got] zero points, then the second [race a] podium, and then zero points, now we got a first podium in first place. It’s still not consistent.
“I expect a lot of wins in the future, and to have good points for the drivers’ standings and hopefully I can get [a] seat for 2021 in AlphaTauri.”