Red Bull expects top-four for Tsunoda in F2

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko is expecting Honda protege Yuki Tsunoda to finish in the top four in his first Formula 2 season.

Red Bull expects top-four for Tsunoda in F2
Listen to this article

Tsunoda impressed in his first season of European competition last year as he placed ninth in FIA Formula 3 with the unfancied Jenzer squad, taking victory in the Monza sprint race.

For 2020, the 19-year-old steps up to F2 with Carlin, effectively replacing another Honda-backed driver, Nobuharu Matsushita, in the team.

In his fourth season at GP2/F2 level, Matsushita finished sixth in the standings, two places ahead of Carlin teammate Louis Deletraz, but Marko says he would like to see Tsunoda do even better and finish fourth or higher in his rookie campaign.

"We expect him to be in the top four in his first year," Marko told Motorsport.com. "Then he would also have the necessary points [for a superlicence].

"He has an incredible racing ability. In Formula 3 he made manoeuvres where you think it can't go well. And he does it race after race, and it's fine, he overtakes.

"He's got a certain weakness in qualifying, and they're working on that." 

If Tsunoda succeeds in acquiring a superlicence, he would put himself in a strong position for a future F1 drive with either Red Bull and AlphaTauri, given Honda's long-held desire to have a home-grown driver competing in F1.

It handed SUPER GT and Super Formula champion Naoki Yamamoto a practice outing in last year's Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, but the 31-year-old is considered unlikely to make the transition to grand prix racing at this stage of his career.

On whether he feels Tsunoda has the potential to one day race in F1, Marko said: "If he didn't, he wouldn't have joined our programme. We'll see what he does in 2020."

Yuki Tsunoda, Carlin

Yuki Tsunoda, Carlin

Photo by: FIA Formula 2

Asked if Tsunoda's height of 158cm (5' 2'') made him the perfect racing driver, Marko joked in response: "No, you have to change the pedals for him to be able to reach them!"

Tsunoda's Monza win for Jenzer was the Swiss outfit's first at F3/GP3 level since the 2017 season, while his only full-time teammate Andrea Estner failed to score points last year.

Reflecting on his campaign, Tsunoda told Motorsport.com: "I think it was not such a bad season. Winning for a team that had not had a podium since 2017 has made me confident.

"If I had learnt how to warm up the tyres properly sooner, I think my championship placing would have looked different. But that's a positive point to reflect on.

"To be in the top five or the top eight with a top team shouldn't be a surprise, it's not that great. But getting to the podium with not such a good team, that breeds confidence."

Tsunoda also kicked off his campaign in the Toyota Racing Series, where he is pitched against fellow Red Bull-backed driver Liam Lawson, with victory in the second of last weekend's three races at Hampton Downs.

New Zealander Lawson leads the standings having picked up the remaining two wins, 15 points ahead of Brazilian racer Igor Fraga. Tsunoda sits third, a further point back.

Additional reporting by Kenichiro Ebii

Race winner Yuki Tsunoda

Race winner Yuki Tsunoda

Photo by: TRS

shares
comments
Hitech expands into F2, takes grid to 22 cars
Previous article

Hitech expands into F2, takes grid to 22 cars

Next article

Matsushita set to stay in F2 despite losing Carlin drive

Matsushita set to stay in F2 despite losing Carlin drive
What the future holds for two Red Bull juniors fighting in the F2 battleground Prime

What the future holds for two Red Bull juniors fighting in the F2 battleground

Despite having two talented drivers, albeit at very different stages of their careers, Prema Racing has had mixed fortunes in FIA Formula 2 this year. Both drivers told Motorsport.com how they rate their seasons so far – and their next steps beyond 2022

FIA F2
Aug 24, 2022
Logan Sargeant: Carrying America's F1 hopes on his shoulders Prime

Logan Sargeant: Carrying America's F1 hopes on his shoulders

Two feature race wins in as many rounds have helped Logan Sargeant to emerge as the closest challenger to runaway Formula 2 points leader Felipe Drugovich. The Williams F1 junior couldn't have timed his rise better, with interest in grand prix racing on the rise in his US homeland, and he could be his country's best shot at getting a driver on the grid for the first time since 2015.

FIA F2
Jul 16, 2022
What racing in Australiar the future of F1's junior series Prime

What racing in Australiar the future of F1's junior series

The announcement that FIA Formula 2 and 3 would race alongside the Australian Grand Prix from 2023 came as a surprise, not only to fans but to the series’ teams too. But with Formula 1’s boom in popularity bringing more fans to the championships, team principals are relishing the opportunity

FIA F2
Jun 28, 2022
The other Doohan charting his way to motorsport success Prime

The other Doohan charting his way to motorsport success

Heading into FIA Formula 2 this season, there was a lot of pressure on Jack Doohan. The 2021 F3 runner-up joined a new team for his next challenge, as well as signing up to the Alpine Academy. He told Motorsport.com how he’s tackling the step up - with some help from his motorcycle legend father

FIA F2
Jun 16, 2022
How Drugovich plans on becoming Brazil's first F1 driver since 2017 Prime

How Drugovich plans on becoming Brazil's first F1 driver since 2017

With a chaotic but “pretty much perfect” FIA Formula 2 weekend in Saudi Arabia behind him, Felipe Drugovich now leads the drivers’ standings in his third crack at the series. The Brazilian driver reveals how he ended up back on the grid after what he thought would be his last year in the series, and shares his F1 aspirations.

FIA F2
Apr 1, 2022
Dennis Hauger: The Red Bull junior aiming to emulate Piastri in F2 Prime

Dennis Hauger: The Red Bull junior aiming to emulate Piastri in F2

Norwegian talent Dennis Hauger has a tough act to follow in Oscar Piastri’s footsteps on his graduation to F2 as the reigning F3 champion with Prema. Here’s what he makes of the task ahead of him.

FIA F2
Mar 16, 2022
Ranking the 10 best drivers who raced for DAMS Prime

Ranking the 10 best drivers who raced for DAMS

DAMS has been one of the most prolific teams below Formula 1 since its foundation in 1989, launching 32 drivers into grand prix racing. Following the team's sale to ex-F1 racer Charles Pic, formally closing the book on the ownership of the Driot family, Motorsport.com picks out its 10 best drivers during their spell with the team.

FIA F2
Feb 27, 2022
Why Marcus Armstrong hopes ‘coming home’ can reopen doors to F1 Prime

Why Marcus Armstrong hopes ‘coming home’ can reopen doors to F1

After a disappointing 2021, Marcus Armstrong is returning to FIA Formula 2 for another shot at the title in 2022 with Hitech – this time without the backing of Ferrari. This year, he says, he’s ready to give it his all in a last-shot bid to reach Formula 1.

FIA F2
Feb 19, 2022