Alpha Tauri: Yuki Tsunoda to have first Formula 1 test

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Yuki Tsunoda
Yuki Tsunoda came second in the Formula 2 Championship race in Sochi on 26 September

Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda is to have his first Formula 1 test in an Alpha Tauri car at Imola on 4 November.

Tsunoda, a protege of Alpha Tauri's engine partner Honda, is a potential candidate for a race seat at the team next year.

Tsunoda hopes to cover the 300km that would qualify him to take part in a Friday practice session, if the team chose to run him in one.

After the test there are four races remaining where that could happen.

Tsunoda, 20, is third in the Formula 2 championship with two races remaining, a position that would guarantee him the 'super licence' required to race in F1.

"My main priority is to do those 300 kilometres," he said on Wednesday as he had a seat fitting at the Alpha Tauri factory in preparation for the test, which will come at the wheel of a 2018 car.

"I don't want to crash or go off the track because the more mileage I do, the more I can understand the car, so I will take it easy.

"But I am confident that I can do it and I will drive the way I normally do. I will focus on my job while enjoying my first day in a Formula 1 car.

"I am sure I will be very excited when I'm sitting in the car waiting for the green light at the end of the pit lane."

Alpha Tauri have already said they plan to run Tsunoda in the young driver test after the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Until Honda announced its decision to withdraw from F1 at the end of 2021, Tsunoda was considered close to a certainty to take the seat at Alpha Tauri currently occupied by Russian Daniil Kvyat.

Masashi Yamamoto, the general manager of Honda Motorsports, said at last weekend's Eifel Grand Prix that he did not believe Honda's decision would have "any impact" on whether Tsunoda would graduate to F1 in 2021.

"Red Bull don't just let anyone drive their cars," he said of Alpha Tauri's owners.

"I think they will be evaluating him strictly as a junior driver and also it depends on his Formula 2 results as well. But we'd like to back him up where we can."

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