AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost backed Yuki Tsunoda to succeed with the team in 2022, and said the rookie’s renewal with them was never in doubt.
The Japanese driver raised eyebrows when he admitted his “surprise” that he would be staying on with AlphaTauri next year, with some difficult moments so far in his debut season.
His crashes and lack of pace compared to Pierre Gasly for most of the season has drawn criticism, not least from Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, who has been openly disparaging about his driver’s efforts at times.
But in mitigation, the 21-year-old has taken steps to try and improve his performance, including moving to Italy to be closer to AlphaTauri’s base, and he has been predominantly racing on tracks on which he has had no previous experience.
His team principal believes the Japanese rookie will continue to improve in the remainder of the season, and backed him to improve in comparison to Gasly on the other side of the garage.
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When asked if there was any chance Tsunoda would be replaced, Tost told reporters: “For me, personally, not, because nowadays if you bring a rookie into Formula 1 you must give him time. Formula 1 is really so complex, is so difficult that you can’t expect a young guy coming, showing to the experienced drivers where to go.
“Yuki so far has done a reasonably good job. He was fast, he finished in Budapest on the sixth position and his first race he was ninth in Bahrain.
“Of course, he had some crashes, but I always say the crash period is part of the education process, how will someone find the limit if he’s not allowed to crash. Now I hope that this crash period is finished now.
“We are looking forward to the second half of the season although it will not become an easy one because all these young drivers don’t know either America or Mexico nor Sao Paulo, nor Turkey.
“Saudi Arabia no one knows which means that there’s a lot of work in front of us to bring him on a good level but, beside Pierre Gasly, who is one of the fastest drivers in Formula 1 nowadays, he can learn a lot, he can compare the data and with his skills.
“I think that he will close this gap and I’m looking forward to this driver line-up next year when we will have a new car, so at least we will have a constant and that’s important for us.”
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