Yuki Tsunoda says he’s keen to “learn everything he can” from AlphaTauri team-mate Pierre Gasly during his debut season in Formula 1.
Tsunoda has made the step up from Formula 2 this year after an impressive 2020 campaign that saw him finish third in the drivers’ championship, claiming three victories along the way.
The Honda junior, who is the first Japanese driver to race in F1 since 2014, is one of three rookies on the grid in 2021, along with Haas duo Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
Gasly enhanced his reputation with several standout performances last season, including a shock maiden victory at the Italian Grand Prix.
Tsunoda is aware his new team-mate will be a “hard one to beat”, but has made it his target to learn from Gasly as much as possible.
“Pierre is really fast and already has a win under his belt in F1,” Tsunoda said. “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 Formula 4. He nearly got the title in his first year in Japan which is really difficult, especially for a European driver.
“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 has endured an extensive winter programme to prepare him for his rookie campaign, completing a run-out in a 2019-spec Toro Rosso at Imola and a 2018 F1 car at Misano.
AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost is expecting some strong performances from the 20-year-old this year, but concedes he will likely suffer “some crashes” as part of his development.
“We expect his learning curve to be quite steep, so he should be able to achieve a good performance quite quickly,” Tost said.
“Of course, he will have some crashes, that’s part of the development programme, but what is very extraordinary on his side is the car control, his strength on the braking and his speed in fast corners.
“If he continues his learning process, like he did at the tests in Imola and Abu Dhabi last year, I’m sure we will see some fantastic races.”