Tsunoda already contributing to AlphaTauri F1 car development

Tsunoda became the latest member of Red Bull's young driver programme to reach F1 after making his grand prix debut in Bahrain at the end of last month, moving up from Formula 2.

Tsunoda impressed in his first race, charging through to ninth place to score two points for AlphaTauri with a series of impressive overtakes.

The team has previously spoken about the important role Tsunoda's teammate, Pierre Gasly, will play through 2021, leading its development direction thanks to his greater F1 experience.

AlphaTauri technical director Egginton said the balance of one experienced driver and one rookie left the team in a "different scenario" to many of its rivals, but that Tsunoda was already complementing Gasly well.

"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," Egginton said.

"That combined with the correlation, it 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] 'OK, that's quite an interesting thought'. The way he drives the car is a little bit different to Pierre and that opens up some other questions.

"So it's a bit of a mix, really. The key point is that he's got the speed, and he has got the speed, to be able to contribute."

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02, passes Esteban Ocon, Alpine A521

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02, passes Esteban Ocon, Alpine A521

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Tsunoda has enjoyed an accelerated rise through the ranks to reach F1, having been racing in Japan's national F4 championship just three years ago.

An impressive rookie season in F2 last year saw Tsunoda finish third in the championship and earn an F1 graduation that was aided by an extensive private testing programme.

Egginton was impressed by how Tsunoda took minor setbacks across his maiden grand prix weekend in his stride, proving his adaptability and willingness to learn.

"His speed was not in doubt from F2," Egginton said. "He deserves this shot. He's on a very steep learning curve, as with any young driver is 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're understanding what he wants from the car. He's working well with an engineering team. He's a quick learner.

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"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 everybody. 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's good at working with young drivers.

"We're going to have ups and downs, but he's delivering and I think that's important because we're firmly in the midfield it appears, so it's good."

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