AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost says he is expecting strong performances and “some crashes” from Yuki Tsunoda during his debut season in Formula 1.

Tsunoda has enjoyed a rapid rise through the junior ranks and graduates to F1 for the 2021 season after just two years of racing in Europe, having impressed on his way to claiming a top-three finish in Formula 2 in his rookie campaign in 2020.

The 20-year-old Japanese driver has been carrying out an extensive testing programme for AlphaTauri during the off-season in a bid to get up to speed for 2021 and insisted he is “not afraid to make mistakes” in his rookie F1 season.

And Tost accepts that errors are to be expected from Tsunoda as he adapts to F1.

"We expect his learning curve to be quite steep, so he should be able to achieve a good performance quite quickly,” said Tost.

“Of course, he will have some crashes, that’s part of the development programme, but what is very extraordinary on his side is the car control, his strength on the braking and his speed in fast corners. If he continues his learning process, like he did at the tests in Imola and Abu Dhabi last year, I’m sure we will see some fantastic races.”

With a race win under his belt, Pierre Gasly is expected to take on a team leader role at AlphaTauri, and Tost believes Tsunoda will benefit from the Frenchman’s experience in his maiden campaign.

“Pierre is a very high-skilled driver and he now also has the necessary experience to be a leader in the team and for Yuki,” he explained. “Every driver compares themselves with their team mate so the better the latter is, the more you are pushed to improve yourself.

“Yuki can learn a lot from Pierre in all aspects, for example comparing the lap times, the set-up of the car, the driving lines – this is all very important, especially on those tracks that are new to Yuki. If you have a strong and experienced team mate you can compare many different parameters, which help to improve your own performance.”

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