AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda says he’ll pushing from the get-go in his debut season in F1, and while mistakes will be inevitable, they won’t deter the young Japanese driver.
At just 20, the highly rated Tsunoda steps up to the big time and with the full support of Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko who was impressed by the Honda protégé’s speed, quick perception, consistency and learning abilities in last year’s FIA Formula 2 Championship.
As the youngest driver on the grid and given his inexperience, Tsunoda faces a daunting task ahead, but the young charger is anything but overawed by the pressure he’ll face.
“This will be my rookie season and I will be pushing hard right from the beginning to adapt to the car as much as possible,” he said in an interview for the AlphaTauri website.
“However, I’m not afraid to make mistakes – I will of course try and limit them – but they are inevitable at the beginning.
” I am confident I can learn from my mistakes though, as I proved last year in Formula 2.
“I am really happy to have the support of Japanese fans, and I’m proud to be the one to bring another Japanese driver on the grid, after Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.
“As for the pressure, I put it on myself, so nothing changes in that regard for me – I want to push myself to succeed.”
Tsunoda, who underwent two days of testing with AlphaTauri at Imola earlier this week, highlighted the progress he enjoyed last season as a driver, but also underscored his mental development.
“Last year for me was a season in which I made a big improvement in all aspects of my job,” he added.
“First of all, in terms of my driving but also in terms of my mentality and psychology regarding how I approached my racing.
“I think I improved a lot during Formula 2. It was a very successful season, one of the best in my racing career.”
As his campaign in F2 unfolded with Carlin, Tsunoda grew stronger, improving his consistency, an evolution that eventually yielded three wins, an additional two podiums and six top-six finishes that delivered third place in the overall standings.
“At the start of the season, I already had a good pace and could compete with strong rivals, but I lacked consistency until the middle of the season,” he explained.
“That meant I was unable to get good points in the early races.
“Then, from the mid-season on, I worked with a psychological trainer and we talked a lot about my racing – how I prepare for the race and my attitude during the race – as well as other factors. That resulted in my mentality improving a lot.
“By the end of the season, it was not yet where I wanted to be, but had improved so much since the start of the season. My on-track results continued to get better.
“At the start of last year – during the rookie test for example – I struggled with tyre management compared to my team-mates, however I have worked hard with the team and watched races from previous seasons to learn how to better manage this.
“The hard work we all put in paid off, as by the end of the year I had received the Pirelli award – which showed just how much progress I had made.
“I know the next step in my motorsport career won’t be easy, but I can’t wait.”
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