Tsunoda's F1 chances not lessened by Honda's departure
Honda's F1 exit does not affect the future of F1 prospect Yuki Tsunoda, Alpha Tauri says.
In the wake of Honda's recent departure from F1, there were concerns over the implications this has relating to Formula 2's Tsunoda, currently competing with Carlin as a member of the Red Bull and Honda junior programs.
With immense backing from Honda, Tsunoda was considered a shoo-in for an AlphaTauri drive in 2021, the Japanese driver having already showed promise in his racing in the F1 feeder series'. However, with Honda stepping away from in 2021, a shadow of doubt has been cast over what had seemed at one point like an inevitability.
Tsunoda, however, remains a favorite, as AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost asserted that a decision will be made on merit, just as it was to be prior to the news of Honda's departure. The Japanese is set to test for them in Abu Dhabi.
"Scuderia AlphaTauri currently has two fast drivers with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat," said Tost. "We will do the young driver test day with Yuki Tsunoda and this has nothing to do with the decision from Honda that they will not continue after ’21.
"The philosophy at Red Bull is always the performance and if Yuki performs well and he is doing a really good job in F2 – he has won two races this year, at Spa and Silverstone if I remember rightly and in Austria as you remember hopefully, he was leading the race in the wet until a few laps to go and because of radio problems he couldn’t win this race.
"He is doing a really good job and this is decisive, the performance of the driver and this was always the philosophy and this will always stay like it is and then we will see what Red Bull decides regarding their drivers for 2021," summed up Tost.
Honda's Masashi Yamamoto also clarified that his organisation's divorce with Red Bull has no bearing on the future of Tsunoda, who was only offered support from the Japanese automaker where it would be beneficial for all parties involved.
"Personally, I don’t think our leaving has any impact there," he said. "Red Bull don’t just let anyone drive their cars. I think they will be evaluating him strictly as a Junior driver and also it depends on his F2 results as well. But we’d like to back him up where we can."
One thing that might have threatened a potential Tsunoda appointment could have been deficient super license points, but assuming all goes well, the Japanese driver will make the threshold, a revision of the rules on that particular matter offering extra security.
[This story was written by me for FormulaRapida and edited by Darshan Chokhani]