Tsunoda: Faculty to quickly adapt helped move to F1

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AlphaTauri charger Yuki Tsunoda says his ability and need in the recent past to rapidly adapt to motorsport's junior categories have helped his move to Formula 1.

After winning the Japanese F4 championship in 2018, Tsunoda headed to Europe to compete in the 2019 FIA Formula 3 Championship with the support of Honda and Red Bull, a campaign followed directly by a step up to Formula 2 with Carlin in 2020.

The 20-year-old secured three wins, four pole positions, seven podiums and finished 3rd in the fiercely competitive feeder series, showcasing his outstanding talent but also an ability to quickly adapt to a new environment.

Tsunoda, who impressed in pre-season testing which he concluded with the second fastest lap time, says the scarcity of track time in the junior categories forced him to swiftly get up to speed, and that experience is now helping him adjust to Formula 1.

"Two years ago it was the first time I came to Europe, for Formula 3, so most of the tracks were first time for me, the Formula 1 tracks," said Tsunoda.

"There was just one free practice and then it was straight into qualifying, you have to perform well and then try to get some points in the race.

"At the beginning of the season in Formula 3 I struggled a bit to adapt to the tracks as soon as possible and couldn’t focus as much on the car set-up and also on my driving style.

"But that hard situation made it better for adapting well to Formula 2, that experience was really useful.

"Also these two years, Formula 3, Formula 2, adapting to the cars, the experience, have been really useful for my move to Formula 1, especially for the beginning of the season, so definitely that helps."

Tsunoda's rapid rise and promotion to F1 have earned him a healthy following in Japan whose last representative to race in F1 was Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.

"I’ve been getting a lot of messages from Japanese fans, especially through social media," he said.

"I already know how they are reacting to me being in Formula 1, especially as there was no Japanese driver in Formula 1 for the last seven years.

"They’re definitively excited, I’m excited as well, so I’m especially looking forward to get to Suzuka this year, to drive in front of the Japanese fans."

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