Yuki Tsunoda, the favourite to partner Pierre Gasly at Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda in 2021, had his first taste of driving Formula 1 machinery on Wednesday when he took to the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari track.
The Japanese driver used a 2018 Scuderia Toro Rosso STR13 for the test and he completed in excess of the three-hundred kilometres he needed to do to be in line for a Superlicence. To ensure he gets that Superlicence, he needs to finish inside the top four in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, and he currently sits third with just two rounds remaining.
The day at Imola started damp but dried out enough for him to experience the STR13 in all conditions, and Tsunoda admitted it was a surprise to just how big a jump up compared to what he was used to in Formula 2.
“It was easier for the driving, but also harder physically,” Tsunoda is quoted as saying by Motorsport.com. “I expected it to be a little bit less hard physically, especially on the neck. Because driving in Formula 2, I don’t feel much on my neck, and my neck is pretty strong.
“After I drove a Formula 1 car today, I felt it pretty hard, especially in the braking zone and the braking performance. The braking power is more than I expected. I need a lot of training until maybe the next session and next event to drive a Formula 1 car and prepare.
“After I put the throttle, I initially feel the big power from the engine which I don’t feel much in Formula 2. I think that power is more than I expected, and that was, even in the rain, it was really, really big performance for the initial struggle.
“Even in rainy conditions, I think it was more [performance] than I felt in Formula 2 dry conditions. That was the biggest surprise for today.”
Tsunoda says practicing in the Red Bull Racing simulator assisted him as he came to terms of driving a Formula 1 car, and he felt more confident with every lap he completed around the venue of last weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.
“The experience from practicing in the simulator in Red Bull helped me a lot to get used to it really quickly, and the end of the session was really consistently fast,” said Tsunoda.
“Even in race sim, the lap times were really consistent, even while I’m doing lots of things on the steering every lap, almost every single corner. That was a good step for me.”