AlphaTauri team boss Franz Tost has no doubts about Yuki Tsunoda's remarkable talent but insists it's now up to the Japanese driver to make the most of his skills.
Tsunoda was promoted to F1 with AlphaTauri in 2021 after just a single season in the FIA Formula 2 Championship.
The 21-year-old apprentice enjoyed a strong debut, finishing ninth in his first Grand Prix in Bahrain, but suffered thereafter, with several crashes and mistakes blemishing his sessions and races and undermining his confidence.
While his teammate Pierre Gasly consistently delivered points for AlphaTauri in the first part of the season, Tsunoda lost his way which compelled Red Bull to move the young charger from Milton Keynes to Faenza to help his development and integration with his team and instill discipline in his everyday life.
Tsunoda achieved his best result of the season in Hungary where he finished sixth, but only two top-ten results followed thereafter, while Gasly single-handedly upheld his team's challenge for fifth in the Constructors' standings.
Despite his mixed performances, Tsunoda was handed a second season with AlphaTauri. But Tost says it is now time for his driver to step up to the next level.
"I can only say that Yuki is a really fantastic driver," Tost said, quoted by Motosport.com. "Now, it's also in his hands what he is making out of this, because to have talent is one story.
"I know a couple of F1 drivers that were really talented, but they won maybe one race or even no race.
"As a Formula 1 driver you cannot do enough physical training, nutrition is very important, to be really disciplined. And the complete way of life must be 100% matching what Formula 1 requests.
"This is now in his hands. We can only advise him, but then he has to do it by himself. And this is where you will see [if he] can become a real top star.
"From the driving side he can do it. Now it's up to him."
Tost admitted that Tsunoda inevitably suffered from the comparison with Gasly and the contrast of experience between the two drivers.
"Yuki's season is a fantastic example of a rookie season," the Austrian explained. "It was in the past always the same, but this year was the first time that there was a very experienced driver on the side of a rookie.
"Normally we started with two rookies or a driver with one year of experience and then the difference was not so obvious."
Tost always expected his young apprentice to rack up the damage bill as crashes are an inevitable by-product of a rookie's development process. But Tsunoda was nevertheless left questioning his ability.
"He was shocked, he lost confidence," added Tost. "Of course, then the question comes: "Am I able to do this? Maybe Formula 1 is too fast for me?'
"It's with all the drivers the same. but with Yuki it's just such a fantastic example.
"This is the reason why I say a young driver needs minimum three years to understand a little bit Formula 1, because Formula 1 is much more complex as people think.
"Next year is a completely different story because he knows much more. I'm quite confident that we made the right decision."