We sat down with the Red Bull junior to discuss the moments that made him.
1. THE FINAL ROUND OF THE JAPANESE F4 CHAMPIONSHIP
“My first moment would be the final round of the 2018 Japanese Formula 4 Championship, which was in Motegi. I went into the round leading the points, P1, but I could have lost the Championship in the final round if my results were not good enough.
“That was my second year in F3 and if I didn’t win the title, then I might not have been able to race in Europe the following season. That was the biggest pressure for me, and also from Honda. There were also 12 Super Licence points on offer, which was quite a big deal.
“The conditions were tricky in Qualifying and I got P4. That was not so good because Motegi is really difficult to overtake on and the guy behind me in the Championship qualified on pole.
“At the time I thought a lot of things about my future. So many different things could have happened. I just tried to work hard and I delivered - I put it all together. I gave it my all and put in as much effort as I could.
“I finished first in Race 1 that day and became champion. That was the biggest memory for me and it’s why I am racing in Europe. For me, that was the biggest race in my life.”
2. MONZA 2019
“The next would be the F3 race at Monza in 2019, which was my first win in Formula 3. That played a large part in my promotion to Formula 2. I had taken P3 in Race 1, which was good. I had really consistent pace, especially in Race 2, in wet conditions.
“That was my first time in the rain in Formula 3 and it was really challenging. Thankfully, I'd already gotten pretty confident from the braking in the dry, so I just tried to get a feel for the braking again in the formation lap.
“Then, I tried to maximise attack and have brake performance feeling from the tyre. That was pretty good. After that, the pace was really good, and I got P1. After the race, Helmut Marko came to the parc fermé afterwards and said ‘well done.’ I think that race made him happy.”
3. GETTING POLE IN SPIELBERG
“The third moment would be getting pole position in Austria I think - that was good. Compared to the other two moments, it will have had less of an impact in my career, but it made me more confident.
“It also made Helmut happier. Helmut kept saying to me ‘improve your qualifying pace,’ so that was the result of that and it meant that I could show him that I’d improved in qualifying.
“That made me more confident that I have the pace. I have confidence to make that pace strong until the end. That for me is good. I know it's not the biggest, but that's the third memory for me.”
4. SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS 2019
“I also to add, as a fourth moment about last year in Spa. Until Spa, I didn't have any podiums, and after Race 1 there was the Formula 2 race and I was watching. There was a massive accident and I got the news about Anthoine Hubert.
“I was really despondent and really sad about that because Hubert was one of the drivers that I felt like I really wanted to race against. It was really sad, but I learned from him. He was driving for a team who had not finished at the top the season before, but he managed to win two races. I felt a little bit of a similar thing that season. I was at a team who had not finished at the top the previous season, but I still managed to be top three or the top five.
“After I got news, I felt a strong feeling. For me that was the biggest. He showed that even if the team or the situation is not ideal, you have to keep pushing and try and make the results the maximum, like Hubert did. After that, suddenly I became P2 in Spa Race 2 and that was the first time I got a podium. Hubert was really impactful for me.
“The same thing applies in Formula 1. It is really hard to be in a top team in your first year, such as Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull Racing. Usually, you have to driver in a team which isn’t as strong as those, which means that you have to maximise the car and show your performance as much as possible. Hubert showed me that you have to push to the end, every race, to make the maximum result. That will make you a better driver and prepare you for Formula 1.”