Hot F1 rookie set to replace Tsunoda

Yuki Tsunoda is under significant pressure to prove he should stay on next season in Formula One. The Red Bull junior team driver caught the eye of a number of teams during his junior formula career with his incredible speed and dramatic race victories.

Yet the Japanese driver won neither the F3 or F2 championships and for many F1 observers there is still the lingering suspicion he may have gained the jump on a number of his peers due to the Honda relationship with Red Bull.



Tost stands by Tsunoda

Franz Tost is set to retire as one of the longest standing team principals in Formula One having been in Faenza since Red Bull bought the team 19 years ago from Minardi.

Tost has been protective of the young charges he has been given to blood in the ways of F1 and has steadfastly insisted it requires three years from being a rookie before the full potential of a young driver can be realised.

There were questions asked of Tsunoda mid way through the 2022 season as to whether his temperament was right for racing at the pinnacle of motorsport, but Tost stood by his charge and Yuki was given a third year with Alpha Tauri.

“The pace he has shown recently is clear evidence of a steep learning curve, which proves he deserves a seat in F1, and I still expect some strong results from him in the last six races of 2022,” claimed Tost after Tsunoda was retained for 2023.



De Vries poor start masks Yuki performance

“As I always say, a driver needs at least three years to fully get to grips with Formula 1, so I’m pleased he’s been given the time to show his full potential.

Well Tsunoda is well under way I his third season in Formula One and once again he faces questions over whether he will make the grade by the end of the year.

Despite some recent favourable press which debated the unlikely scenario that the Japanese driver cold replace Sergio Perez, Yuki has just two points from seven races and his ‘race rage” over team radio is ever present.

Of course Yuki is helped by the fact his new team mate Nyck de Vries has not set the Formula One world on light as many expected. De Vries stepped in for the stricken Alex Albon from Williams to race his maiden Grand Prix in Monza last season.

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Honda set to power Aston Martin

The Formula E champion claimed ninth at the Royal Park racetrack scoring points on debut and from then expectations were high for his rookie year with Alpha Tauri.

However, the young dutch driver has two thirds of the season to find some of that form he showed in Monza last year and he should cement another season with the junior all outfit.

The same can not be said for Yuki Tsunoda. Honda have agreed to power (PU) Aston Martin from 2026 and their current PU supply arrangement with Red Bull will no longer include the ‘payment rebates’ to promote a Japanese driver to Formula One.

However, Red Bull have another potential superstar driver waiting in the wings who looks to be all but ready to step up into Formula One.



Red Bull juniors not “classic” recruits

While some look amongst the pool of F3/F2 champion drivers for the next ‘big thing’ Red Bull under the watchful gaze of Helmut Marko have always thought more outside the box.

Max Verstappen was not a classic Rosberg or Hamilton junior champion style recruit. Max had just a year in single seater racing before his F1 debut and won a regional championship in the form of the European Formula 3 competition.

Now Red Bull have another driver who will drive next season I Formula One having made it via an unconventional route.

Liam Lawson is presently racing in Japan’s Super Formula which is the racing series with machinery closest to Formula One.

New F1 teams approach Red Bull



Japan’s Super Formula closest to F1

Lawson has made his way through F4/3/2 but not as a champion. His best seasons result was finishing third in F2 at the end of the 2022 season.

The New Zealand driver describes the step up from F2 to Japan’s Super Formula.

“The aero sensitivity of these cars is extremely high, and that relates a lot to F1,” explains Lawson to Honda’s in house media. 

“The stuff we’re focusing on here with set-up is the same stuff. The last couple of years doing simulator work for Red Bull, I was learning stuff about the set-up that I had never looked at before, stuff that we just didn’t do in F2. But coming here, a lot of it is similar. 



Gap for Formula 2 is huge

“Of course, the speed of the car is also much closer to F1. This bridges the gap so much. This is the only car that is somewhat close, with similar characteristics. 

“I’m so glad to have come here. If I get a shot to race in F1, I will be really happy that I raced here first.”

Lawson has taken Super Formula by storm and he was handed a huge opportunity to prove himself worthy of F1 by Red Bull at the end of last year when he was named as defending champion Tomoki Nojiri’s team-mate at leading Honda Super Formula outfit Team Mugen.

Following pre-season testing, Lawson was keen to manage expectations and stated that beating a driver of Nojiri’s pedigree was not a realistic target. 

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Lawson beating the best in Japan

Yet Liam stunned the Japanese establishment by beating Noriji in a straight fight in the first race of the season becoming the first Super Formula debut winner in some 45 years.

Lawson heads the Super Formula championship after four of nine rounds which include two victories.

Yet its the performances the New Zealander has delivered which have tongues waging in the Super Formula paddock many of whom expect him to push on and win the title.

Lawson would following in the footsteps of the likes of Ralph Schumacher and Pedro de la Rosa who used this championship back in the 90’s as a platform to launch their Formula One careers.

Red Bull will be hard pressed to not offer Liam Lawson an F1 drive with Alpha Tauri next season, the question is whether Tsunoda will be mentoring him or switching places and returning to Japan.

READ MORE: Ferrari chairman takes swipe at F1 team after Le Mans win

6 responses to “Hot F1 rookie set to replace Tsunoda

  1. What are you talking about? Yuki Tsunoda is having a stellar year according to just about everyone, there’s quite possibly going to be a new driver at Alpha Tauri next year, but it sure ain’t Tsunoda on the hot seat…

    • Seriously, he’s doing well given his inferior car. No one can say he hasn’t improved over the three years. This writer clearly doesn’t actually watch the races.

  2. Interesting that the manager who took Ralf Schumacher to Japan because it was the closest comparison to F1 performance was Franz Tost!

  3. Stupid article. You know who needs replacing? The one who write this fcking article.

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