Red Bull junior Yuki Tsunoda's pace and consistency was “quite impressive” during his maiden Formula 1 test at Imola, according to AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost.

Honda-backed Formula 2 racer Tsunoda completed 72 laps and more than 300km of running required for an FIA superlicence driving a 2018-spec Toro Rosso STR13 at Imola on Wednesday.

Tsunoda is being considered for an F1 promotion to the AlphaTauri squad for next season and took another step towards a potential drive by conducting a test that means he can now participate in Friday practice sessions if required.

The 20-year-old is expected to partner Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri in 2021 provided he secures an F1 superlicence, something he is on currently course to achieve as he currently lies third in the F2 championship heading into the final four races in Bahrain.

AlphaTauri team principal Tost said he was impressed by Tsunoda’s speed, consistency and technical feedback during his first-ever run in F1 machinery at the venue which hosted the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix last weekend.

“We had a very productive first test here in Imola with Yuki Table to complete 352km,” Tost said.

“It was a bit damp in the morning, so we started the day on full wet tyres. Even so, Yuki got immediately familiar with the car, which means that when we changed to the dry tyres he improved his lap times straight away and it was quite impressive.

“After the lunch break we continued on with new sets of tyres and he improved further, showing that he was feeling more comfortable in the car, lap by lap. Yuki gave valuable technical feedback regarding the behaviour of the car, which was in line with what we expected.

“In his last run, he did a race simulation and he was very consistent, which is clear evidence he had everything under control. We are looking forward to his next test in Abu Dhabi, when he will be doing the young driver test for Scuderia AlphaTauri.”

Tsunoda experienced both dry and damp conditions and was able to complete both qualifying and race simulation runs.

Reflecting on his first day of F1 testing, Tsunoda admitted he was stunned by the performance of the car and the physical demands it has on the body.

"It was easier for the driving, but also harder physically," Tsunoda said.

"I expected it to be a little bit less hard physically, especially on the neck. Because driving in Formula 2, I don't feel much on my neck, and my neck is pretty strong.

"After I drove a Formula 1 car today, I felt it pretty hard, especially in the braking zone and the braking performance.

"The braking power is more than I expected. I need a lot of training until maybe the next session and next event to drive a Formula 1 car and prepare.”

Tsunoda revealed the “biggest surprise” of his first F1 test was the power output compared to what he is used to in F2, where he has claimed two victories so far in his rookie campaign this year.

"After I put the throttle, I initially feel the big power from the engine which I don't feel much in Formula 2," Tsunoda explained.

"I think that power is more than I expected, and that was, even in the rain, it was really, really big performance for the initial struggle.

"Even in rainy conditions, I think it was more [performance] than I felt in Formula 2 dry conditions. That was the biggest surprise for today.”

 

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