Yuki Tsunoda’s chances of gaining a promotion to Formula 1 will not be affected by Honda’s decision to leave the sport, according to senior figures at the Japanese manufacturer and Red Bull.
The 20-year-old, who lies second in the Formula 2 championship, is due to test for AlphaTauri at the end of the year. As well as being a member of Red Bull’s Junior Team he is also backed by Honda.
But Honda’s announcement last week that they will withdraw from F1 after 2021 has cast doubt on Tsunoda’s future in the sport.
However speaking in yesterday’s FIA press conference at the Eifel Grand Prix, Honda F1 managing director Yamamoto said that Tsunoda’s F1 hopes were not connected to Honda supplying Red Bull with power units and that Honda would continue to support his promotion hopes where they could.
“Personally, I don’t think that our leaving has any impact there,” said Yamamoto. “Red Bull don’t just let anyone drive their cars. I think they’ll be strictly 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.”
AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said that the team’s existing driver line-up and Tsunoda would be evaluated on on-track performance alone, after the young driver test.
“Alpha Tauri has two fast drivers currently, in Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat and we will do the young driver test with Yuki Tsunoda.”
“This has nothing to do with the decision from Honda that they will not continue after ’21. The philosophy at Red Bull is always the performance.”
Tost praised Tsunoda’s rookie F2 season, saying he would be even better placed in the standings but for a radio error that cost him a feature race win at the Red Bull Ring earlier this season, as he was unable to be instructed to pit or see the pit boards for several laps in extremely wet conditions.
“He has won two races this year in Spa and Silverstone,” said Tost. “And in Austria he was leading until a few laps to go, then because of radio problems he couldn’t win this race.
“He is doing a really good job and this is decisive, the performance of the driver. This was always the philosophy and this will always stay like it is. Then we will see what Red Bull decides regarding the drivers for 2021.”
If Tsunoda sustains his position inside the championship top three he will score 40 FIA superlicence points, making him automatically eligible to race in Formula 1 next year.
2020 Eifel Grand Prix
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