Yuki Tsunoda has been confirmed at AlphaTauri alongside Pierre Gasly in 2021, replacing Daniil Kvyat.
The Japanese driver finished third in the Formula 2 championship this season, making him the highest-placed rookie. Tsunoda ended up just one point behind runner-up Callum Ilott and 15 adrift of champion Mick Schumacher after a near-perfect final round where pole, a win, a second place and a fastest lap yielded 43 of a possible 48 points. Following his appearance in the Young Driver Test on Tuesday, it has now been confirmed Tsunoda will race in F1 next year.
“Like most racing drivers, it has always been my goal to race in Formula 1, so I am very happy with this news,” Tsunoda said. “I want to thank Scuderia AlphaTauri, Red Bull and Dr. (Helmut) Marko for giving me this opportunity, and of course everyone from Honda, for all their support so far in my career, giving me great opportunities to race in Europe.
“I must also thank the teams that I have raced with to get to this point, particularly Carlin, with whom I have learned so much this year. I realize that I will be carrying the hopes of a lot of Japanese F1 fans next year and I will be doing my best for them too.”
Tsunoda becomes the first Japanese driver in F1 since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014, and makes the step up after just two years of racing in Europe — finishing ninth in Formula 3 last year and third in F2 this season — following his 2018 Japanese F4 championship success.
As both a Red Bull and Honda young driver, Tsunoda has also had the opportunity to test a 2018 F1 car in November and AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost is excited about the potential he has seen in the 20-year-old.
“Red Bull has been following Yuki’s career for a while now and I am sure he will be a great asset to our team,” Tost said. “Watching him in Formula 2 this year, he has demonstrated the right mix of racing aggression and good technical understanding.
“During the test in Imola in November when he drove our 2018 car, his lap times were very consistent over a race simulation, he progressed throughout the day and gave our engineers useful feedback. In addition, his integration with the Honda engineers has been seamless, which certainly helps. At the test in Abu Dhabi this week, he proved to be a fast learner and that he is ready to make the step to Formula 1.”