Yuki Tsunoda heads into his first ever Singapore Grand Prix knowing that he will feature on the grid next season, after having his current deal with AlphaTauri extended until the end of 2023.
2023 will be a vital year for the Japanese driver, who is yet to really prove if he has what it takes to be a top driver in the championship.
AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost has spoken previously that he believes a driver needs three-years to fully prove themselves, meaning next season is Tsunoda’s final chance to show the Red Bull organisation that he should be retained for many years to come.
The Japanese driver has had some good results this season; however, he makes mistakes too often.
He faced a back-of-the-grid start at the recent Italian Grand Prix due to having been slapped with a fifth reprimand, going fittingly with Dr Helmut Marko’s “problem child” nickname for the young driver.
In all honesty, Tsunoda had little competition for his seat from other Red Bull Junior drivers, with none having proven to have the ability to make the step up to F1 just yet.
With that in mind, Tsunoda has revealed he was “fairly confident” that he would be retained by the Faenza-based team and is now happy to “focus only” on racing.
“I am very happy that my contract has been extended for another season,” said Tsunoda.
“It was confirmed to me a short while ago, a few days before the announcement last week. I was fairly confident that I would be staying, but there was a bit of stress until it was confirmed, obviously that doesn’t bother you when you’re in the car, but off-track you do think about it a bit.
“So, I can head into Singapore and Japan with none of these worries, allowing me to focus only on the race weekend and my preparations – I’m excited!”
This weekend’s first Singapore GP since 2019 presents Tsunoda with a challenge, due to having never raced at the venue before.
The Marina Bay Circuit is regarded as one of the most demanding on the calendar, with drivers having very little rest time during the lap.
Tsunoda isn’t expecting this weekend to be an “easy event” but is “aiming to score points”.
“I don’t think Singapore will be an easy event for me as it will be my first time at this circuit, but I will just try to build up lap by lap during practice with my usual process for a new track,” added the AlphaTauri driver.
“It will be difficult, but if we can get more performance out of the car then our target has to be aiming to score points. I’ve driven the Singapore circuit on the simulator, and it is definitely a busy track, where you are constantly moving the steering wheel with no place to rest on the lap.
“It will be physically demanding because of the weather being humid and hot, but we get similar conditions in Japan at certain times of the year, so I have an idea of what to expect.
“I’ve been doing specific training to prepare and adapt for these conditions for some time now, and I also think getting used to working on European time should not be too much of a problem.”