Franz Tost is confident Yuki Tsunoda can bring his “extraordinary” strengths to AlphaTauri despite facing a steep learning curve through his debut Formula 1 season.
Tsunoda will embark on his rookie F1 campaign in 2021 after graduating from Formula 2, where he finished third in the championship last year.
The Japanese youngster is set to become the first driver born in the 2000s to race in F1, but faces limited opportunities to get up to speed before the opening race in Bahrain next month.
Teams have just three days of pre-season testing in 2021, with most set to split that evenly between its drivers. Tsunoda has managed to complete some private running in some of AlphaTauri’s older cars to compensate for this.
Speaking following the launch of AlphaTauri’s new AT02 car ahead of the 2021 season, team principal Tost said that while Tsunoda would face the regular challenges rookies encounter in F1, his skills would still shine through.
“We expect his learning curve to be quite steep, so he should be able to achieve a good performance quite quickly,” Tost said.
“Of course, he will have some crashes. That’s part of the development programme.
“But what is very extraordinary on his side is the car control, his strength on the braking and his speed in fast corners.
“If he continues his learning process, like he did at the tests in Imola and Abu Dhabi last year, I’m sure we will see some fantastic races.”
Tsunoda conducted test runs in the 2018-spec Toro Rosso at Imola last year before driving the 2020 car in the post-season Abu Dhabi test. He has also conducted running in the 2019 Toro Rosso at Imola and Misano this year.
While expressing his faith in Tsunoda, Tost explained how team-mate Pierre Gasly could help the Japanese youngster’s development this year and bring out the best in him.
“Pierre is a very high skilled driver and he now also has the necessary experience to be a leader in the team and for Yuki,” Tost said.
“Every driver compares themselves with their team-mate so the better the latter is, the more you are pushed to improve yourself.
“Yuki can learn a lot from Pierre in all aspects, for example comparing the lap times, the set-up of the car, the driving lines. This is all very important, especially on those tracks that are new to Yuki.
“If you have a strong and experienced team-mate you can compare many different parameters, which help to improve your own performance.”