Yuki Tsunoda has completed his first F1 test with AlphaTauri, as did the three Renault juniors, while Fernando Alonso starts his two-day run.

Honda and Red Bull junior, Tsunoda, took another step towards his ultimate dream, having completed his maiden F1 test at Imola in a 2018 Toro Rosso (liveried in AlphaTauri) car. He was destined for a run in the post-2020 test but he was handed one early.

Red Bull is evaluating Tsunoda to check if he is ready for a F1 challenge in 2021 alongside Pierre Gasly, who is already confirmed at AlphaTauri. The Japanese is third in the F2 standings and needs to finish fourth to accumulate the superlicense points.

However, the COVID-19 revisions could help him in a special need. AlphaTauri did not reveal much details of his timings but shared several images and videos about his run at a cloudy Imola as Tsunoda now waits to know if he graduates to F1 or not.

“Today’s session, my first time in a Formula 1 car, was great fun,” said Tsunoda after the run. “It was a whole different world to the F2 car I am racing this year, especially in terms of the increased power and also the braking performance. I didn’t worry about my lap times, I just focused on getting used to the F1 car and completing the 300 kilometres.

“I’m pleased to have managed it. I did a lot of physical training to prepare for this, but even so, I was a little bit tired at the end of the day, but very happy with the experience. There is so much more a driver has to do in an F1 car, but I had practiced dealing with all the extra switches on the steering wheel in the simulator.

“I have been talking with the Scuderia AlphaTauri engineers since last month when I had the seat fitting. They are a friendly group and we established a good relationship. Of course, when it came to discussing the Honda PU, I could talk in Japanese, which made it quite straightforward.

“Overall, the day was great fun and part of that came from having this session at the high speed Imola track, which made it even more interesting. Ahead of me are two more F2 rounds, four more races and I will just concentrate on each session over the two weekends and then we can see what the result is at the end of it all,” summed up Tsunoda.

Interestingly, AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost was present at Imola for the test as well – a not so common thing to happen in such runs. “We had a very productive first test here in Imola with Yuki Tsunoda and we were able to complete 352km,” he said. “It was a bit damp in the morning, so we started the day on full wet tyres.

“Even so, Yuki got immediately familiar with the car, which means that when we changed to the dry tyres he improved his lap times straight away and it was quite impressive. After the lunch break we continued on with new sets of tyres and he improved further, showing that he was feeling more comfortable in the car, lap by lap.

“Yuki gave valuable technical feedback regarding the behaviour of the car, which was in line with what we expected. In his last run, he did a race simulation and he was very consistent, which is clear evidence he had everything under control. We are looking forward to his next test in Abu Dhabi, when he will be doing the young driver test for Scuderia AlphaTauri,” summed up Tost.

IMOLA, ITALY – NOVEMBER 04: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan completes his first F1 test at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on November 04, 2020 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Josh Kruse/Scuderia AlphaTauri) // Josh Kruse / Scuderia AlphaTauri / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202011040561 // Usage for editorial use only //
IMOLA, ITALY – NOVEMBER 04: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan completes his first F1 test at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on November 04, 2020 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Josh Kruse/Scuderia AlphaTauri) // Josh Kruse / Scuderia AlphaTauri / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202011040558 // Usage for editorial use only //
IMOLA, ITALY – NOVEMBER 04: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan completes his first F1 test at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on November 04, 2020 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Josh Kruse/Scuderia AlphaTauri) // Josh Kruse / Scuderia AlphaTauri / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202011040563 // Usage for editorial use only //
IMOLA, ITALY – NOVEMBER 04: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan completes his first F1 test at Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari on November 04, 2020 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Josh Kruse/Scuderia AlphaTauri) // Josh Kruse / Scuderia AlphaTauri / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202011040566 // Usage for editorial use only //

While Tsunoda had his run at Imola, two of his F2 rivals and the 2020 F3 champion, completed their test in Bahrain in the Renault R.S.18. From the former series, it was Guanyu Zhou and Christian Lundgaard, while the latter had Oscar Piastri.

It was Lundgaard who kicked-off the test run on October 29 with Piastri taking over on October 30, while Zhou completed two days on November 1 and 2. The Dane completed 101 laps with the Australian – making his F1 debut – undertaking 82 laps.

Zhou did not start well on the first day due to car issues, but covered up on the second day with qualifying runs too. “It’s always a privilege to drive a Formula 1 car, so to have this two-day test in Bahrain in the Renault R.S.18 was really beneficial,” he said. “Day 1 was tricky with some issues and we didn’t get so much running complete.

“Day 2 was much better, and we got through our programme and the things we had to do. There was lots of data to collect, we did race runs and qualifying runs. Each time I’m in the car, I’m straight up to speed and I felt quite comfortable. It’s a challenge getting familiar with all the settings but that’s also quite a fun experience. Testing in Bahrain before the F2 race is definitely useful, so I’m really looking forward to racing there later this month.”

Meanwhile, Lundgaard, added: “It was good to be back in a Formula 1 car. I’ve never been to the Bahrain race circuit, so jumping into an F1 car on a circuit I’ve never driven brought a really nice challenge. I think it all came to me quickly and I felt comfortable straight away on the first run.

“We had a couple of issues, but that’s all part of testing, and then we continued with our programme. The whole point of this process is to learn as much as possible. I’m grateful for the opportunity and I certainly enjoyed every second of it. I’m very happy, we got some good running in and I’m quite confident for the Formula 2 race in a few weeks’ time. I’m looking forward to it.”

At the same time, Piastri stated: “I really enjoyed the experience in the R.S.18. It was my first time in a Formula 1 car, so it was very exciting if not a little bit nerve-wracking at the same time! Once I did the install lap, all the nerves went away, and I focused on having fun and driving fast. It was a really enjoyable experience and I felt the pace was quite good.

“I got used to the car pretty quickly and I certainly learnt a lot. I’m looking forward to whenever the next experience may be, so thanks to Renault, both the Academy and the Formula 1 team, for the opportunity. I feel very lucky, as not everyone gets to do this and it’s not something you do every day.”

Rounding out about their performances, Renault Academy Director, Mia Sharizman, noted: “To be able to conduct the R.S.18 Test in Bahrain with all the additional organisation arrangement needed due to Covid-19, is a testament to our commitment to the Academy drivers. It was good to see Christian and Guanyu manage to complete their respective programmes, which was geared more towards preparing them for their remaining F2 rounds in Bahrain later in the month.

“For both drivers to be able to do more than 100 laps per day, shows a step forward and upwards progression from their last year F1 Test in the R.S.17. I am impressed with Oscar’s approach for his first day in the F1 car. He managed to get up to speed pretty quickly and complete his run plan.

“We can see from his first day in the car that he is capable of adapting to a new car quite easily, which is one of the biggest traits that we would like to see. We had good feedback from the F1 engineers of the performance from all three drivers and they can see that the level is getting higher and higher each year, which is a good sign for things to come.”

Post the completion of the four-day run with three Renault juniors, the to-be 2021 driver, Alonso, traveled from Imola to Bahrain, for his first day of action on Wednesday in the R.S.18. The Spaniard will continue his preparatory run on Thursday too.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault F1 Team.
RS18 Bahrain Test, Wednesday 4th November 2020. Sakhir, Bahrain.
Fernando Alonso (ESP) in the Renault F1 Team RS18.
RS18 Bahrain Test, Wednesday 4th November 2020. Sakhir, Bahrain.

Here’s news on Yuki Tsunoda not being affected by Honda pullout

Here’s Fernando Alonso on needing couple of races to get into groove