Yuki Tsunoda says he was taken aback by AlphaTauri’s confirmation of managerial changes, with long-term boss Franz Tost to step down after 2023.
Tost, who has spearheaded the Red Bull-owned team since its nascent days in 2006, will transition into a consultancy role for 2024.
Tost will be replaced by current Ferrari Sporting Director Laurent Mekies while ex-FIA executive Peter Bayer is to join as CEO later in the year.
“It was really surprising news for me,” said Tsunoda, who has been with the team since late 2020.
“I had lunch with him like five days before that news, or something like that, and actually he didn’t mention about those things.
“So, a surprise… At the same time, there were rumours from the beginning of the season, and it actually came kind of true that he is stepping down. Still, there are 19 [sic] races to go to make him happy!
“Hopefully we can end the season in a positive way for him. To do that, obviously we need lots of development, but we have an aggressive plan to do it.
“I’m looking forward to it and at the same time feeling really kind of appreciative to him that he trusted my speed in the last three years and he was always supportive next to me. I’ll try to make it up for him in the next races.”
Tsunoda’s rookie team-mate, Nyck de Vries, also paid tribute to Tost.
“I’m very grateful to Franz for his role in giving me the opportunity here in Formula 1,” he said.
“I think we have a really good relationship. We all really appreciate all the work he has done over the past 18 years, it’s a long time. And he really lives for the team for his people and for the sport. He’s very passionate. And we all value that very much in Franz.
“But I guess after 18 years there is always a beginning and an end to everything and each time is defined in an era and maybe a new era is about to start.”