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Yuki Tsunoda is the first 21st century F1 driver

Tsunoda gets a taste of the AlphaTauri in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
Tsunoda gets a taste of the AlphaTauri in Abu Dhabi. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
Nico Boyce
Modified 19 Feb 2021

Honda protégé Yuki Tsunoda is set to be the first driver born since the start of the new millennium to race in Formula 1.

The Japanese driver will make his debut for Red Bull junior team AlphaTauri at the Bahrain Grand Prix next month. He replaces Russian journeyman driver Daniil Kvyat, who finds himself without a drive in 2021, just like he did in 2018.

Yuki Tsunoda was awarded the 2020 FIA Rookie of the Year award, Pirelli Driver of the Year award and the Anthoine Hubert award after a solid Formula 2 season which saw him take three wins and finish third in the championship.

The F1 promotion marks the third in as many seasons for Yuki Tsunoda, who raced in Japanese Formula 4 in 2018 and FIA Formula 3 in 2019.

Self-confidence key for Yuki Tsunoda

"Every year I have improved a little and have won in every category I have competed in. Those victories were not easy and they built up my self-confidence a lot," the racer said in an interview published by team AlphaTauri.

A challenging F2 season saw Tsunoda lift himself into title contention from a slow start to the season following a pointless first round at the Red Bull Ring.

"I have worked hard with the team and watched races from previous seasons to learn how to better manage the tires. The hard work we all put in paid off, as by the end of the year I had received the Pirelli award – which showed just how much progress I had made. I know the next step in my motorsport career won’t be easy, but I can’t wait," Tsunoda said.

The AlphaTauri team scored their first F1 victory in 2008, back when they were named Toro Rosso. Sebastian Vettel delighted the Tifosi with a win at the Italian Grand Prix that day. Yuki Tsunoda will be hoping the Faenza squad have many more such moments in their future.

Published 17 Feb 2021, 23:35 IST
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