Scuderia AlphaTauri announced that Yuki Tsunoda from Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan, will be joining the organization for the 2021 FIA Formula One World Championship season, where he will embark on his first full-time season in F1 competition and be a teammate to Pierre Gasly.
The 20-year-old Tsunoda is a current member of the Red Bull Junior Team and the Honda Formula Dream Project. He is coming off his first full-time season in Formula 2, where he competed with Carlin and achieved two Feature Race wins, a Sprint Race victory, seven podium results and a third-place result in the Drivers’ standings with 200 points, which was enough for him to earn a Formula One Super License.
“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 realise 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.”
Starting off his racing career in karting, Tsunoda made his first two career stats in the F4 Japanese Championship season with Sutekina Racing Team in 2016. A year later, he returned for a full-time season in the series with the Honda Formula Dream Project, where he won his first three races and finished in third place in the final standings. He went on to capture the 2018 F4 Japanese Championship in a season where he won seven races.
The following season, Tsunoda, who became a member of the Red Bull Junior Team along with the Honda Formula Dream Project, moved to Europe and competed in the inaugural FIA Formula 3 Championship season with Jenzer Motorsport, where he captured his first career victory at Autodromo Nazionale di Monza and finished in ninth place in the final standings. He went on to compete in the 2020 Toyota Racing Series with M2 Competition and in F2 with Carlin.
In early November, Tsunoda ran his first test session in Formula One and in a 2018-spec AlphaTauri at Imola, where he covered 352 km and earned a Friday super license. He recently participated in the Young Driver Test with AlphaTauri at Abu Dhabi following the 2020 Formula One season, where the official announcement of him joining the team was made shortly after.
“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,” Franz Tost, Team Principal of AlphaTauri, 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 One.”
Tsunoda’s entrance to Formula One means that he is set to become the 18th competitor from Japan to compete in Formula One, first since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014, along with the first competitor born in the 2000s to do so. His move also completes AlphaTauri’s two-driver lineup for the 2021 F1 season, with Pierre Gasly, winner of the 2020 Italian Grand Prix, returning for a fourth full-time campaign.
This means that Daniil Kvyat, AlphaTauri’s second competitor, enters the 2021 season as a free agent. The 26-year-old Kvyat from Ufa, Russia, is coming off his sixth season in F1, where he earned seven top-10 results and finished in 14th place in the 2020 Drivers’ standings.
Tsunoda is set to make his Formula One debut in the 2021 Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne’s Albert Park Circuit on March 21.