Rebranded as AlphaTauri from Toro Rossi in time for the 2020 Formula One season, much was expected from the feeder team to Red Bull Racing.
However, success was thin on the ground during that maiden campaign and, other than an astonishing win in their home Grand Prix, the Italian firm could only muster 107 points – finishing seventh of ten teams in the Constructors’ Championship.
Consequently, change is afoot and the team has announced that Formula 2 star Yuki Tsunoda will replace Daniil Kyvat for the 2021 season.
The Japanese ace finished third in the F2 Championship behind another pair of emerging stars in Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott – in the end, Tsunoda finished just 15 points behind the German champion.
It means that Kyvat will be without a drive next season, and that’s a remarkable fall from grace for a young man who was the third driver at Ferrari just a couple of years ago. But his inability to accumulate more points during 2020 – despite suffering only one race retirement all campaign-long – has left AlphaTauri with no alternative but to hand the Russian his marching orders.
Tsunoda will join Pierre Gasly, who has been retained as the number one driver of the team, and pundits will be expecting a much-improved showing from them in 2021. Gasly produced a fine performance to triumph at Monza last term, and he will be hoping for more of the same. You can see from the latest F1 odds for the Drivers’ Championship that both Gasly and Tsunoda, at 250/1, are considered huge outsiders for glory, but AlphaTauri appear to have ‘levelled up’ with their new signing.
Red Bull Could Give Tsunoda Wings
Having been signed up by both Red Bull and Honda as part of their talented drivers programme, it seemed only a matter of time before Tsunoda took the wheel of an F1 car.
But his ascent to the AlphaTauri hot seat has come rather quickly, given that he is a sole F2 season under his belt, and particularly as he hasn’t challenged for silverware in any of the other championships in which he has competed.
That hasn’t deterred Frank Tost, the team principal of AlphaTauri, however, who has been impressed with what he has seen from the 20-year-old so far, believing he will be a ‘great asset’ to the ranks. “In F2 this year, Yuki has demonstrated the right mix of racing aggression and good technical understanding,” Tost said.
Tsunoda has played his part in two testing sessions for the manufacturer in Imola and Abu Dhabi, and those watching on were also impressed with what they saw.
As for the 20-year-old himself, he confirmed it has always been his goal to compete in Formula 1, and referenced his fervent home supporters – ‘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 confirmed.
He will be hoping to emulate the achievements of Kamui Kobayashi, the Japanese driver who landed points in 27 different races for Sauber and Caterham, and the early signs are that Tsunoda has what it takes.
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