AlphaTauri’s Franz Tost, and drivers Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda discuss the team’s ‘interesting’ 2021 F1 line-up.
Tsunoda enters the 2021 season a rookie, having only competed in F2 for one season and tested F1 machinery on few occasions. The Japanese driver is the first from his country to make the pinnacle of motorsport since Kamui Kobayashi raced in the sport.
Tsunoda says that learning from teammate Gasly will be vital to his success in F1, lauding the Frenchman as a ‘really fast’ race-winner. The 20-year-old recalls watching Gasly’s successful Super Formula campaign unfold in 2017 – a year in which the 25-year-old moonlighted as a Toro Rosso driver.
“Pierre is really fast and already has a win under his belt in F1,” said Tsunoda. “The first target for every driver is to beat your team-mate but he will be a hard one to beat. I remember seeing him in Japan when he was racing in Super Formula and I was in [Japanese] Formula 4.
“He’s an incredible talent and I’m excited to learn everything I can from him this season, as I’ve already seen how integrated he is within the team,” Tsunoda said. Gasly considers the AlphaTauri driver’s arrival a moment that requires him to step up, assuming a role asF1 team leader given his greater experience.
Although Gasly sees himself as AlphaTauri’s leading man, the Frenchman is also quick to point out that Tsunoda is himself a talented driver, and one who demonstrated his talents to great effect in Formula 2. “Of course, Yuki’s arrival means I will have more responsibility within the team and I’m ready to take on the role of team leader,” he said.
“However, he is a very quick driver and he will help us move the team forward. I know Yuki, he is a competitive guy and showed what he can do in F2, that’s why he was promoted to F1 after just one year. We will work together to achieve that.
“He lacks experience, so it won’t always be easy for him, but I think he is talented and it will also be up to me and the team to lead the way. His arrival doesn’t really change my approach, which will be the same as last year, when we got the most out of what we had to work with at pretty much all the Grand Prix, apart from one or two,” said Gasly, who also shares that he believes 2020 was AlphaTauri’s best year thus far.
“So, we must keep going with the same philosophy, as I really believe last year was the team’s best in terms of the way it worked, the development, the performance and in the way it managed the race weekends. I think that goes for me too and we just have to keep going like this to try and do a little bit better than we did last year,” Gasly adds.
AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost points out drastic contrasts between their drivers, calling them an ‘interesting’ pairing, with one experienced driver and a debutant both in the line-up. But he also expects their traits to compliment each other, and looks forward to a positive result. “For this season we are running an interesting driver pairing,” he admits.
“We have an experienced driver and a rookie. I reckon Pierre is one of the strongest drivers in F1 nowadays. Pierre’s good technical understanding allows him to get the best out of the car. Pierre has been with the team for some time now, so he is familiar with all procedures and with our way of working, he will be a good leader, helping Yuki in his development.
“He knows how to win a race – as he proved last year in Monza – and if we provide him with a competitive car, I expect him to be very successful this season. Then, we have Yuki, who finished third in the F2 Championship and watching his races last year in F2 I must say he did a fantastic job, winning races and carrying out many impressive overtaking manoeuvres.
“Yuki has already completed some tests with us in an F1 car and I’m convinced that he will have a successful start in his F1 career, due to his natural speed and his talent. The decision to go for Pierre and Yuki in 2021 was taken because Scuderia AlphaTauri’s philosophy is still to give talented young drivers from the Red Bull Junior Programme the opportunity to step up to F1 and to educate them – this is why Yuki now gets his chance.
“With Pierre on Yuki’s side we have an experienced driver, who can help our Japanese rookie to develop faster, but at the same time we can aim for good results. I think this pair is the best possible scenario to achieve both our targets and I’m also confident this will be a successful one,” Tost said.
Here’s on-track image of AT02 with different nose
Here’s Jody Egginton on the differences between AT01 and AT02
Here’s Honda on what changes they have for its power unit
Here’s the 2021 AlphaTauri livery