AlphaTauri rookie Yuki Tsunoda sampled a current-spec F1 car for the very first time in Tuesday’s young driver test at Abu Dhabi, the Red Bull protégé ending the day with the fifth quickest time.
Tsunoda, who is expected to be confirmed this week as Pierre Gasly’s teammate at AlphaTauri for 2021, had gained some F1 experience during a private test at Imola earlier this year, albeit at the wheel of a 2018 car.
The difference between the Faenza-base outfit’s older car and its current contender wasn’t lost on the 20-year-old.
“I had more track time today than when I tried a Formula 1 car for the first time in November and I must admit I feel a bit tired now at the end of the day,” commented Tsunoda. “But it was a very enjoyable experience.
“When I last drove in Imola it was a 2018 car, so I was surprised at the increase in power and downforce from the current car.
“However, the experience from my drive in Imola was definitely a useful starting point for today.
“There were quite a few aspects that felt new to me and during the session I worked on dealing with these and continuously improving throughout the day. I learned a lot and have made progress with my driving.
“The off-season starts tomorrow, and I have a training programme planned to make sure I am always stronger and fitter, but I will also enjoy some days at home in Japan, to fully recharge batteries.”
Tsunoda’s countryman Marino Sato took to the track for the very first time onboard an F1 car on Tuesday, completing a total of 127 trouble-free laps.
“We completed quite a lot of laps, it’s just a shame that I got stuck in bit of traffic for my run on the soft compound,” he said.
“It was looking good until then, but I can’t say I could fully give it all I had today. But still, the first day in a Formula 1 car was really enjoyable and a great experience, so I hope to come back to drive this car again soon.”
Abu Dhabi test: The day’s action in pictures
AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost was happy with the performance of both his young guns.
“It was a very successful test today. We completed 250 laps with the two cars and it was quite a good lesson for both the drivers,” said the Austrian.
“Yuki had already tested an F1 car in Imola back in November, but this time he could drive the current-spec car, and for Marino, it was his first time in F1.
“Yuki did a great job while giving us very good technical feedback, and his cooperation with the engineers has been really beneficial.
“Marino also did a solid job, he completed many laps, learning the car and how an F1 team works. If he continues like this I think he has a future in motorsport.
“Today we had a very fruitful test, a good end to a successful 2020 season.”
Gallery: The beautiful wives and girlfriends of F1 drivers
Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter