AlphaTauri will run Marino Sato as part of an all-Japanese driver line-up in the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test next week.
The one-day test allows teams to run two cars at once in order to give inexperienced drivers Formula 1 track time, although Renault managed to lobby the FIA to allow Fernando Alonso to run given he hasn’t raced in F1 for two years. Tsunoda is set to race for AlphaTauri next season and was confirmed to be testing on Tuesday, but now the team has announced fellow Formula 2 driver Sato will partner him.
“I am extremely happy to be given this opportunity from AlphaTauri to drive an F1 car,” Sato said. “We will try to do as many laps as possible to get used to the car quickly and to learn maximum out of it for whatever it comes in future. Obviously to be driving an F1 car is the dream of every racing driver, for sure I will enjoy a lot around Abu Dhabi!”
After dominating last year’s EuroFormula Open championship, Sato had a frustrating 2020 season in F2, scoring just one point for the struggling Trident team. Despite a tough year this year, AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost says the F1 experience will help Sato — who beat Tsunoda in 2019 — as he looks to enjoy a better time in F2 next season.
“We are pleased to have Marino Sato on board for the test because he did a solid job throughout the season in F2 this year, so he deserves a run in Formula 1,” Tost said. “We are convinced he can do a good job as he is a skilled driver. The plan for the test is simple, getting him to do as many laps as possible to give him a good feeling for an F1 car.
“This test will be very useful, both for us and for Marino and we will do our best to help him understand how an F1 team operates in all its different aspects. In addition, from a technical point of view he will certainly learn something from which he will benefit next year, when he will continue in the F2 Championship.
“I think this is a very good preparation for his future and it’s a pleasure to be part of his development towards what we hope will be a very successful career.”