Tsunoda gets Imola test as AlphaTauri hopes unchanged by Honda news

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Yuki Tsunoda will test a 2018 Toro Rosso at Imola next month amid rumours of a 2021 AlphaTauri seat.

The Japanese driver, who currently sits third in the Formula 2 championship, has been linked to the seat held by Daniil Kvyat should he gain the necessary superlicence points to be eligible for Formula 1 - which he's currently on course to do.

A major potential spanner appeared to have been thrown in the works by Honda after their decision to pull out of F1 at the end of 2021.

But last weekend, AlphaTauri chief Franz Tost insisted Tsunoda is as much a Red Bull junior as he is a Honda protege.

"Scuderia AlphaTauri has two fast drivers currently with Pierre Gasly and Daniil Kvyat,” he said via Motorsport.com.

"We will do the young driver test day with Yuki Tsunoda [in Abu Dhabi]. This has nothing to do with the decision from Honda that they will not continue after 2021.

"The philosophy at Red Bull is always the performance and he performs well, he's doing a really good job in Formula 2, he has won two races this year, in Spa and Silverstone if I remember right.

"In Austria, he was leading the race in the wet until a few laps because of radio problems he couldn't win this race. He is doing a really good job, and this is decisive, the performance of the driver.

“This was always the philosophy and this will always stay like it is. Then we will see what Red Bull decides regarding the drivers for 2021."

Speaking recently to Motorsport.it, Tsunoda was asked about his relationship with the man who'll likely decide his future, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.

“We have a great relationship, he’s a kind and fun person," the 20-year-old said.

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“Last year when I went to Austria to meet him and talk about the season which just ended he was not happy with the results I had achieved. Of course, he knew I was a rookie and that I could have a hard time, but he demanded a lot more

“Then we went to dinner together and he asked me directly what my goals were and what I expected. I answered him honestly even though I felt a little pressure.”

That though would trigger the response we've seen from Tsunoda in F2 this year and he remains determined to simply at least open the door to a possible F1 seat next year.

“I honestly didn’t expect this kind of performance,” he admitted.

“At the beginning of the year, I immediately had good feelings with the car. Already from the tests, I went very well and in Austria, on the occasion of the first round of the season, I was quick right away and managed to go to the maximum and attack.

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“In any case, I knew that this year I would have to give my all to finish in the top four in the championship and have the chance to get the superlicence.

"I had a different approach to racing than in the past and this year is the best year of my career, I’m enjoying every race.

“From the beginning, the minimum goal has always been fourth place. This was the request that Helmut Marko made to me to get the necessary points to obtain the superlicence.

"Obviously, the ambition, as for all the drivers, is to win the title.”

Currently, Tsunoda is 44 points behind leader Mick Schumacher with four races to go all in Bahrain in November/December.