Yuki Tsunoda replaces Kvyat at AlphaTauri for 2021 F1 season


Yuki Tsunoda will be on the F1 grid with AlphaTauri for the 2021 season

Yuki Tsunoda, 2020 Abu Dhabi test

Tsunoda will partner Pierre Gasly next season

Peter Fox/Getty Images

Yuki Tsunoda will make the step up from Formula 2 to F1 next season with AlphaTauri, replacing Daniil Kvyat at the team.

The Japanese driver took three wins and finished third in the 2020 F2 championship, just 15 points back from champion Mick Schumacher, and will now line-up alongside Pierre Gasly next season.

Tsunoda took part in the post-season test in Abu Dhabi with AlphaTauri and tested with the team at Imola following the Emilia Romagna GP back in November.

“Like most racing drivers, it has always been my goal to race in Formula 1, so I am very happy with this news,” Tsunoda said.

“I want to thank Scuderia AlphaTauri, Red Bull and Dr. Marko for giving me this opportunity, and of course everyone from Honda, for all their support so far in my career, giving me great opportunities to race in Europe.

“I must also thank the teams that I have raced with to get to this point, particularly Carlin, with whom I have learned so much this year. 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.”

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Tsunoda’s promotion brings to an end Kvyat’s third spell with the Faenza team, with the Russian not linked to any other seat and admitting in Abu Dhabi that he was eager to take a year away from F1.

The 20-year-old will be the first Japanese driver on the F1 grid since Kamui Kobayashi back in 2014. The Red Bull and Honda junior driver won the Japanese F4 title in 2018 before stepping up to Formula 3 in 2019 and F2 this season.

Tsunoda stood on the podium seven times and pulled off numerous impressive overtakes, impressing the likes of Helmut Marko and Red Bull.

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said that the overtaking ability and team feedback Tsunoda had displayed in F2 and during tests with the team had impressed and left a positive impression.

“Red Bull has been following Yuki’s career for a while now and I am sure he will be a great asset to our team,” Tost said.

“Watching him in Formula 2 this year, he has demonstrated the right mix of racing aggression and good technical understanding. During the test in Imola in November when he drove our 2018 car, his lap times were very consistent over a race simulation, he progressed throughout the day and gave our engineers useful feedback.

“In addition, his integration with the Honda engineers has been seamless, which certainly helps. At the test in Abu Dhabi this week, he proved to be a fast learner and that he is ready to make the step to Formula One.”