Trevor Carlin, boss of Carlin, has only words of delight for the Japanese driver, who is set to be the 27th driver to graduate from Carlin squad to an F1 race seat. If Tsunoda is even half-as-good as the other drivers who have passed through the doors of the team, and made their way to the highest echelons of the sport, such as Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Robert Kubica, and Daniel Ricciardo; he’ll surely give a hard time to the rest of the grid.
“He’s been an absolute pleasure to work with,” said Carlin. “We’ve only had him for one season, and he did everything and more than what we expected.
According to the team boss, Tsunoda has all the right cards to shine in the AlphaTauri seat.
“Time will tell where he ends up in the pecking order, but I think he’s got a very exciting future ahead of him, and as long as he’s not overwhelmed by the F1 environment, I see no reason why he can’t match what Lando [Norris] is doing, and you never know, he could have a little bit of Max [Verstappen] in him.
“The speed he learns and understands the car, he’s got the natural ability, so it’s just a case of tailoring it to each championship and then getting on with it.
Trevor Carlin is also pretty confident that the Japanese rookie might also challenge race-winner and teammate Pierre Gasly.
“If he picks up F1 as fast as he picked up F2 then I think he’ll be giving Pierre a good run for his money once they get back to Europe.”
Tsunoda lands into F1 after finishing third in Formula 2 – which is one position lower than what Carlin’s previous F1’s graduate Lando Norris achieved, before joining McLaren, back in 2018.
Carlin’s boss has no doubt Tsunoda is ready to take the stage of F1, although “he is lacking a bit of experience compared to Lando, but his overall pace and understanding of driving a racing car is there. He’s ready to go, for sure.
The major strength the Japanese young talent has is the speed he has in learning and improving.
Up until his debut in F2, Tsunoda had been under the radar, and albeit winning his first F3 season in 2019, and triumphing in the Euro Formula Open Championship that same year, he did not feature much in the title battles.
What has been particularly remarkable is the maturity and improved performance that he put in place during his first F2 campaign.
“The thing with Yuki is, he learns so fast. With F1 you actually get a lot more practice than you do in F2, which will help. He’s got to go to a load of new tracks, but he didn’t seem to have any trouble getting up to speed – Sochi for instance, he was quick” Carlin said.
“I’m very hopeful. I would expect him to have some incidents in the first few rounds, but once that’s over, I think you’ll find he could shock a few people.”
When asked about his racing career and his approach to driving, Tsunoda commented: "Last year for me was a season in which I made a big improvement in all aspects of my job.
"First of all, in terms of my driving but also in terms of my mentality and psychology regarding how I approached my racing. I think I improved a lot during Formula 2. It was a very successful season, one of the best in my racing career.
Tsunoda admitted he lacked consistency in results but was able to get better at it, through the 2020 season.
"At the start of the season, I already had a good pace and could compete with strong rivals, but I lacked consistency until the middle of the season. That meant I was unable to get good points in the early races.
In addition to his on-track result, Tsunoda has worked on his mental approach to racing, which is equally as crucial for long-term success.
"From the mid-season on, I worked with a psychological trainer and we talked a lot about my racing – how I prepare for the race and my attitude during the race – as well as other factors. That resulted in my mentality improving a lot.
"By the end of the season, it was not yet where I wanted to be, but had improved so much since the start of the season. My on-track results continued to get better."
Tsunoda is not afraid to make rookie mistakes as he steps into Formula One – rather, he’s willing to push his limits and make an early impression.
“This will be my rookie season and I will be pushing hard right from the beginning to adapt to the car as much as possible,” he said in an interview published by his Faenza team.
“However, I’m not afraid to make mistakes – I will of course try and limit them – but they are inevitable at the beginning.
“I am confident I can learn from my mistakes though, as I proved last year in Formula 2. I am really happy to have the support of Japanese fans, and I’m proud to be the one to bring another Japanese driver on the grid, after Kamui Kobayashi in 2014.