Yuki Tsunoda entered his first Formula One season with AlphaTauri with a lot of hype, as many predicted a bright future for him after a quick rise through the junior levels and a successful pre-season testing performance.
Since then, however, Tsunoda has struggled to establish consistency. Numerous crashes in the first half of the season shattered his confidence, as well as a continuous disadvantage to teammate Pierre Gasly.
AlphaTauri, on the other hand, has shown enormous faith in the Honda-backed driver, extending his contract until 2022, an announcement that Tsunoda said he was not anticipating.
Ahead of the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, he told reporters, “The first half of the season was quite inconsistent, so also from my side I was a bit surprised I’ll be staying for next year.
“Because, I just keep crashing and spend lots of money for the team.”
David Coulthard reacts
Tsunoda’s statements astounded Coulthard, who claimed they were not those of a racing driver. As a result, he does not anticipate seeing the 22-year-old on the grid beyond 2022.
On Channel 4, Coulthard said, “What planet is he from? I think he should pack his little bag and go home now because that is not the voice of a racing driver.
“‘I’m shocked they could retain me because I keep crashing’.
“I’d book a plane ticket now and get it nice and cheap because he won’t be in Formula 1 beyond the end of next year.”
Tsunoda’s candour is not unwelcome in the Formula One paddock, with F1 interviewer Tom Clarkson finding the young driver’s views refreshing.
Clarkson was interviewed on the F1 Nation podcast, where he said, “Even when he is keeping it on the track, he is so far off Pierre at the minute.
“I love his honesty though, when asked about him re-signing for the team in 2022, he expressed surprise, he said ‘I’m surprised that they re-signed me’.”
Honda support important for Tsunoda: Damon Hill
Damon Hill, the 1996 World Champion, also mentioned that Honda’s support for Tsunoda plays a big part in his starting position, while also pointing out that the Japanese driver is up against one of the form racers in Gasly.
“He is involved in Honda, don’t forget that is an element here,” Hill explained.
“Pierre Gasly is [on] top form, and also he is a very highly rated driver, you have to say his results are fantastic.”
Tsunoda won points in his Formula One debut with a P9 result at the Bahrain Grand Prix, but he has only four more points finishes since then.
Tsunoda’s best finish in Formula One is P6 in Hungary. However, he admnitted it was “a bit lucky” in what turned out to be a chaotic race.
With eight rounds remaining, he is in 14th place in the Drivers’ Championship, 48 points behind Gasly.