Yuki Tsunoda has concluded a private test in the Toro Rosso STR13 at Imola, as his hopes of a full-time Formula 1 seat with AlphaTauri in 2021 grow.
The Japanese driver, who is currently third in the Formula 2 standings, will automatically receive an F1 Super Licence if he is classified fifth or higher in the Championship.
Tsunoda may also feature in an FP1 session in the final rounds of the year, with the Red Bull-backed driver tipped to join Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri in 2021.
Speaking about his first experience in an F1 car today, Tsunoda admitted he underestimated the physical challenge of driving the car.
“I expected it to be a little bit less hard from a physical [perspective], especially the neck because I have quite a lot of confidence that I don’t get a tired neck,” Tsunoda said.
“In my life, even in Formula 2 I don’t feel the neck much and my neck is pretty strong, but after I drove the Formula 1 car today it was pretty hard.
“It felt hard, especially in the braking zones, the braking performance, I always went [forward under braking] and I tried to avoid going like that.
“But still, the braking power is more than I expected. So I need to do lots of training until the next session or next event I drive Formula 1, to prepare a lot.”
The 20-year-old also found managing the many buttons of an F1 steering wheel a challenge, despite having practiced with them in the simulator.
“I did lots of practice in the simulator in the Milton Keynes Red Bull factory,” he said.
“Also the last time I went to Scuderia AlphaTauri to make the seat we did a lot of studying. It’s easy to remember but it’s hard to react quickly when you’re driving.
“After I heard information from the engineer that I have to change mode or buttons in the first session it was a little bit of a struggle to react quickly and change the buttons.
“I had to watch the steering wheel a little bit or slow down a little to be honest to change the mode.
“But in the end the experience from practicing in the simulator at Red Bull helps a lot to get used to it really quickly and the end of the session was really consistently fast.”