Formula 1: Yuki Tsunoda joins AlphaTauri to replace Daniil Kvyat for 2021 season
Tsunoda steps up to F1 after placing third in Formula Two last season with three race wins. He won the F2 rookie of the year award as the highest-scoring driver in his first season.
Faenza, Italy: Japan will have a driver in Formula One for the first time in seven years after AlphaTauri confirmed Wednesday that Yuki Tsunoda will replace Daniil Kvyat at the team in 2021.
Tsunoda steps up to F1 after placing third in Formula Two last season with three race wins. He won the F2 rookie of the year award as the highest-scoring driver in his first season. The 20-year-old Tsunoda will be the first F1 driver to be born in the 21st century.
He will partner Pierre Gasly at AlphaTauri, which is Red Bull's second team with a focus on developing talented drivers who can represent the main team.
"Red Bull has been following Yuki's career for a while now and I am sure he will be a great asset to our team," AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said. "Watching him in Formula 2 this year, he has demonstrated the right mix of racing aggression and good technical understanding."
Tsunoda drove this year's AlphaTauri car during testing in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, placing fifth-fastest of 15 runners.
The last Japanese driver in F1 was Kamui Kobayashi, who raced for Toyota, Sauber and Caterham before leaving at the end of the 2014 season.
Kvyat is without an F1 drive for 2021. The Russian has spent six seasons in F1 with AlphaTauri and Red Bull.
Seven-time world champion Hamilton produced a best lap in one minute and 26.633 seconds to outpace Russell by 0.220 seconds while Ferrari's Charles Leclerc finished third.
Max Verstappen was asked in Interlagos to allow his Red Bull team-mate, Sergio Perez, to pass him, but he refused in a curt rebuke on team radio.
If F1 returns to the Chinese Grand Prix, it will be the fourth leg of a record 24-race season in 2023.