Formula 1

RISING STAR: Yuki Tsunoda – Japan’s Formula 1 Champion in waiting?

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Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

With just over a week until lights out in Bahrain, and there’s plenty of talk surrounding AlphaTauri’s newest recruit Yuki Tsunoda.

At 20 years of age, the Japanese driver will become the first born in the 2000s to race in F1 when he makes his debut at Sakhir.

Standing at just 1 metre 59 centimetres, Tsunoda is by far the shortest driver on the grid and that brings the added bonus of less weight compared to his fellow competitors.

But Tsunoda is used to punching above his weight as he has done throughout his junior formula career.

His single-seater career began in his native Japan where he contested two seasons of Japanese Formula 4 where he caught the attentions of Honda.

His impressive rookie season saw him finish third overall and then, with the Honda Formula Dream Project team, he ran away with the 2018 title racking up seven race wins.

The following year, Tsunoda took a huge gamble to make the step up to FIA Formula 3 having never previously raced in Europe but Honda backed him to succeed despite his lack of experience of European racing.

And while he didn’t go and win the title as he had done the year before, he still surprised many by how quickly he managed to get on the pace and mix it with some of Formula 3’s best.

He backed that up by also taking part in Euroformula Open on a part-time basis and he still managed fourth overall in that series having finished ninth in F3 with the unfancied Jenzer team.

2020 was perhaps the breakout year though for Tsunoda who made yet another step up in category to FIA Formula 2 with the Carlin team.

Now an official Red Bull junior driver, Tsunoda stunned the field by taking three race wins and four pole positions as he finished third in the standings and repaid Honda’s faith in him.

Having secured the necessary super license points, Tsunoda’s rapid rise to the top was complete when AlphaTauri signed him to replace Daniil Kvyat in F1 and his impressive speed in pre-season testing can only bode well for the Japanese racer.

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If it's got an engine, I've watched it race. F2 and F3 correspondent with a sprinkling of speedway here and there.
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