We all are eagerly awaiting to see Yuki Tsunoda line up on the grid in the upcoming season. The Japanese driver is humble besides being quick on the racing track. Ahead of his debut, his car will don the number 22 on its nose. And he’s revealed the reason for choosing that number.
The FIA introduced a rule in 2014, where a driver will select a number between 2 and 99 to be used for the entirety of their F1 careers. The number one is reserved for the reigning world champion, even though it hasn’t been ever used by Lewis Hamilton.
Yuki raced with the number 11 for the whole of his karting career, but that number was not available. So, he picked a number that was akin to it –
“My number when I was racing in karting was 11, but in F1 that’s already taken by Sergio Perez. So, I doubled it to become 22, which I also liked because it was the number of Jenson Button – a driver I respect a lot – when he won the Formula 1 World Championship in 2009. It’s also a number used by Japanese driver Takuma Sato.”
The FIA allows an F1 driver to retain his number for two years after his last race start. Since Button last drove at the 2017 Monaco GP, it was available and snatched by Tsunoda.
F2 experience prepared Yuki Tsunoda for F1
The 20-year-old had a dream debut outing in the Formula 2 championship last season. He showcased his remarkable tire management skills on his way to finishing 3rd in the standings. Another bonus for him was that the F2 race weekends were run simultaneously to their F1 counterparts.
So, being already accustomed to tracks and the Pirelli compounds will help him carry over that knowledge with AlphaTauri.
“I’ve managed to experience many of the tracks, and I’ve also learnt a lot about tire management. F2 gives you a good understanding of working with a racing team at this high level and I’m excited to continue this development at Scuderia AlphaTauri,” said Tsunoda.
The potential of this Red Bull academy graduate is limitless. Hopefully, he lives up to all the hype and opens a lot of doors for other aspiring Asian drivers in F1.