Tsunoda ready to make F1 impact

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Tokyo

He’s the baby-faced rookie whose legs are so short his car needs special pedals — but don’t think Yuki Tsunoda is just along for the ride in his Formula One debut.

The 20-year-old Japanese clocked the second-fastest time ahead of Lewis Hamilton in pre-season testing, and now he’s aiming to make a name for himself when he suits up for AlphaTauri at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix at the weekend.

‘I just want to give it everything I’ve got,’ Tsunoda, who replaced Russian Daniil Kvyat in the AlphaTauri stable, said during an online news conference last week. ‘I don’t want to worry about making mistakes. I just want to go for it and attack.’

Tsunoda, who was born in 2000 and will be the youngest driver on the grid at 20, has been fast-tracked into the elite after spending just one season in Formula Two last year with British team Carlin.

Three wins, seven podium finishes and four pole positions were enough to convince AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost to give him his shot at the big time, and the rookie will be grabbing it with both hands.

Tsunoda will become the first Japanese driver to compete in Formula One since Kamui Kobayashi in 2014, but admitted he had to hit the gym to build his neck muscles to cope with the F1 car’s increased G-force and superior power. He stands just 1.59 metres tall (5ft 3in).—APP