Yuki Tsunoda is unlike any previous Japanese driver who has competed in Formula One. Behind the wheel, Tsunoda is sometimes volatile, and abrasive, and wears his heart on his sleeve. These are not the characteristics shared with previous Japanese drivers, nor the traits or trademarks ofen associated with polite and honorable Japanese culture. Clearly, Tsunoda is more British/European than Japanese, after all, he’s been competing in European single-seater racing since 2018.
Tsunoda was backed by Honda early in his junior career and eventually, this opened the door to the brutal regime known as the Red Bull Drivers Academy. He finished third in the standings in the 2020 Formula 2 Championship which led to a 2021 contract with Red Bull’s satellite team Alfa Tauri.
Tsunoda’s rookie F1 season was a rollercoaster, he was 21 years old, sometimes fast, mostly erratic and his form dipped. The greatest contribution in his rookie season was coining the phrase “traffic paradise”. Unusually Red Bull decided to give Tsunoda another season, perhaps Honda had some influence in the background, but regardless Tsunoda’s form improved in 2022.
Tsunoda was still erratic and fast, but way more consistent throughout the 2022. And he gave highly-rated teammate Pierre Gasly a run for his money. All in all, Red Bull extended his contract and we all get to experience the Yuki Tsunoda F1 season in 2023 which will surely be action-packed.
Indeed Tsunoda credit’s his improved form to a change in diet and environment. Initially based in the UK, Red Bull decided to send Tsunoda to Faenza, Italy, to be closer to the Alfa Tauri factory. The change in weather and lifestyle immediately suited Tsunoda, he literally went from porridge to pasta.
In a recent media interview, Tsunoda explained why he feels the move to Italy helped him both mentally and physically:
“So when I went to Italy, I already felt more energetic, more than usual. Then I felt it was a big, important move and was having a good impact on me. It helped, especially to feel comfortable to live”
“In F1, when you arrive at a track, there is a lot of stress going around, so it is important to be as comfortable as possible when you are away from the track and when you are in the house.”
“In the UK, the atmosphere there was as much as I wanted. The weather especially impacted me. Weather is quite an important thing for me, and food as well. “From then, I started to have a good rhythm when I got to the track, focusing fully on my race.”
The 2023 Formula One season will feature a 24-race calendar, the first race of the season will kick-start the championship on March 5 with the Bahrain Grand Prix.