JAPAN’S Yuki Tsunoda has signed to make his Formula 1 debut with Red Bull’s Alpha Tauri team in 2021.
The 20-year-old, who finished third in his maiden Formula 2 season this year, joins Frenchman Pierre Gasly.
Tsunoda is a member of the junior programmes of both Red Bull and their engine partner Honda.
“In F2 this year, Yuki has demonstrated the right mix of racing aggression and good technical understanding,” Alpha Tauri team principal Franz Tost said.
“I am sure he will be a great asset to our team.”
Tost added that Tsunoda had “proved he was ready for F1” in two tests he has completed for Alpha Tauri in the past couple of months – at Imola in November and at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina track on Tuesday.
Tsunoda said: “Like most racing drivers, it has always been my goal to race in F1, so I am very happy with this news.
“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.”
Tsunoda is the first Japanese driver in F1 since Kamui Kobayashi, who competed for Toyota in the final two races of 2019, Sauber from 2010-12 and Caterham in 2014.
His promotion means Russian Daniil Kvyat does not have a drive in F1 next season.
Kvyat, a former Red Bull junior, was dropped from the beverage giant’s F1 programme at the end of 2017 after a rapid rise and fall.
He was re-signed in 2019, after a year as Ferrari’s third driver, when a driver shortage in the Red Bull programme left a seat to be filled at Toro Rosso, the former name of Alpha Tauri.
But Kvyat was comprehensively out-performed by Gasly over 2020 and his prospects for a future as an F1 race driver look bleak.
– Dec. 16, 2020 @ 14:10 GMT /