Does Yuki Tsunoda Deserve A Seat In Formula One?

Shloke Sarkar

Japan is one of the most well-known hotspots for racing drivers, has been well known for JDM and racing all around. The country has been responsible for 20 drivers joining the F1 grid since 1975, having provided drivers like Aguri Suzuki, Hideki Noda, Kazuki Nakajima and, most recently Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.

Post this, however, we have not seen any Japanese drivers on the grid, resulting in a six-year dry-run. This is set to end, however, with the entry of Japanese junior driver Yuki Tsunoda joining Red Bull sister team AlphaTauri, alongside French driver Pierre Gasly.

This return of a Japanese driver is quite welcome, but, does Yuki deserve a seat in F1, instead of talented drivers such as Nico Hulkenburg and, to some extent Daniel Kvyat, who Tsunoda is replacing this year.

What Is Yuki Tsunoda’s Story?

Yuki Tsunoda (Japanese: 角田 裕毅, Tsunoda Yūki; born 11 May 2000) is a Japanese racing driver who the 2018 Japanese F4 champion and is a member of the Honda Formula Dream Project and the Red Bull Junior Team. Tsunoda began karting in his youth and had a successful time doing so.

After this, he graduated from Honda’s Suzuka Circuit Racing School and went on to become part of the Honda Formula Dream Project in the year of 2016.

Post this, he made his proper racing debut driving for the Sutekina Racing Team as a part of a one-off event, achieving a maiden podium, that too against the likes of Rotomo Miyata, Turbo Asahi and more.

This came with a team that had a record of having cars with results towards the lower half of the grid. In his second race for the team, he finished 4th.

Yuki Tsunoda:Formula 3 Career

After Honda tied up with Red Bull in Formula One after leaving Renault as its engine provider, Tsunoda seized the opportunity and joined the Red Bull junior team alongside his pre-existing Honda Dream Project.

Towards the end of 2018, it was announced that Tsunoda would be joining Jenzer Motorsport in the FIA Formula 3 Championship.

Competing with the likes of Giorgio Carrara, Artem Petrov, Andreas Estner from his own team and Robert Shwartzman, Jehan Deruvala and Marcus Armstrong, he finished 9th in the championship complete with three podiums and a win, scoring all of the Jenzer team’s points doing so.

Following the cancellation of Formula European Master, Tsunoda would go on to compete for Motopark in the Euroformula Open Championship.

Here, after a second-place finish at Paul Ricard and a third-place finish at the Pau Grand Prix, he went on to win in the second race at Hockenheim.

Yuki Tsunoda:Formula 2 Career

After a fairly disappointing Formula 3 Career, Yuki would go on to join Carlin to race in the FIA Formula 2 Championship, with a little bit of help from Honda.

During the season, he would win three races, four pole positions, seven podiums and a third-place finish in the championship with 200 points to his name.

This came finishing behind talented driver Callum Ilott and Mick Schumacher, son of Michael Schumacher, who also went on to win the 2020 season of F2.

After this success, Tsunoda would be promoted to Formula 1.

Yuki Tsunoda: Formula 1 Announcement

Tsunoda needed to finish 4th or above to get a Super License, which is required to step up to Formula 1. Overall, Tsunoda would take a weak car to a few wins and podiums in F2.

This resulted in Scuderia AlphaTauri announcing in August of 2020 that Yuki would be driving for the team at the end of the season rookie test at Abu Dhabi in December.

He drove his first F1 car is a 2018 spec racing car at the Autodrome Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, Italy. He once again tested the machinery at Imola in January of 2021.

Later on, he would be announced on December 16 to be the replacement of Daniel Kvyat.

Is The Japanese Driver A Good Fit For Formula One?

Coming back to the main reason for this article, is Tsunoda fit for Formula One? Yes. The driver has indicated that he can handle tough situations quite well and does not succumb to pressure.

Furthermore, his Formula 2 career is an indication of his abilities, coming in third in a rookie season amongst some of the toughest rivals at the F2 cup in a long time.

The only concern is regarding Yuki’s future since Red Bull is known far and wide for all the wrong reasons when it comes to the team’s junior drivers, with the team failing to have patience.

To add to this, the team was ruining the careers of some talented drivers such as Alex Albon, added with poor treatment to the junior drivers as a whole.

This is evident with the whole Gasly-Albon replacement debacle, which resulted in the team having to resort to an outside hire, namely Mexican driver Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez for the second seat at Red Bull.

Also Read: Max Verstappen Yet To Reach Expectations, Not His Fault

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