Helmut Marko believes Yuki Tsunoda has ‘unbelievable’ basic speed and is a very quick learner and showed during his one and only FIA Formula 2 season how consistently good he was.
Tsunoda will make the step up to Formula 1 in 2021 with Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda in place of Daniil Kvyat having finished third in the standings in Formula 2 last year despite being a rookie. He took three victories and only missed out on top spot in the standings by fifteen points.
Red Bull Racing advisor Marko says Tsunoda was denied winning the title by mechanical issues and a few on-track incidents, but his aggression and knowing when to push were key to him moving up into Formula 1 at the earliest opportunity.
“Tsunoda was the only Formula 2 driver who consistently finished in the top five in every race,” said Marko to Motorsport-total.com. “Only due to technical defects and a few crashes did he not win the championship, and that in the rookie year.
“He is characterised by an unbelievable basic speed and a very quick perception and learning phase.
“If you saw the last races, how he held back at the beginning of the races until the halfway stage, he saved his tyres and then attacked. That was a great mix between aggressiveness and driving with your head.”
Marko says the only reason why Tsunoda was not given an opportunity to run in a free practice session towards the end of 2020 was the height difference between himself and Kvyat that would have taken too long to change in between sessions.
“He is an incredibly funny guy with charisma,” said Marko. “He is 1.61 metres tall (5ft 3ins) and weighs 58 kilos.
“The fact we didn’t use him in Formula 1 on a Friday is simply due to the fact the conversion would have taken so long that it was impossible.”