AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton has praised Yuki Tsunoda for his early contributions to the team, while saying how well his driving style complements that of Pierre Gasly.
Egginton says having a rookie alongside a more experienced head in the team leaves AlphaTauri in a “different scenario” to a lot of teams on the grid, but that their partnership is already working.
“Pierre is a solid reference back to last year and he’s able to tell us in detail what’s changed, what’s better, what’s worse, so that’s good,” said Egginton.
“That, combined with the correlation, helps us potentially answer some of the questions Yuki might have. Because we’ll say ‘okay, that’s expected, that’s not expected, we’re going to work on this’. So it steadies the ship a little bit.
“At the same time, [Tsunoda is] also raising some questions, which are [like] ‘okay, that’s quite an interesting thought’. The way he drives the car is a bit different to Pierre and that opens up some other questions.
“So it’s a bit of a mix, really. The key point is he’s got the speed to be able to contribute.”
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After finishing third in his debut season in Formula 2, Tsunoda was quickly promoted to AlphaTauri to replace exiting Daniil Kvyat. The Japanese driver said he was surprised by the positive reaction he received from fans after his F1 debut, but Egginton has seen enough to believe in the 20-year-old’s talent behind the wheel.
“His speed was not in doubt from F2, he deserves this shot,” he said. “He’s on a very steep learning curve, as with any young driver coming into the Formula 1 world, but he’s taking it step by step.
“He’s absorbing a lot of information and he’s communicating well, and we are understanding what he wants from the car. He’s working well with the engineering team. He’s a quick learner.
“We had a few ups and downs [in Bahrain]. He’s been very quick. We had a few little issues with the car and he’s taken that in his stride. It’s frustrating for him, as it is for everyone. If it wasn’t frustrating for him, that would be a worry actually. But he bounced back from it.
“It’s really refreshing with the young guys in the team. I quite enjoy the challenge and the team is good at it. Without being big-headed, the team is good at working with young drivers.
“We’ll have ups and downs, but he’s delivering and I think that’s important because we are firmly in the midfield, it appears, so it’s good.”
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