Carlin’s Yuki Tsunoda has been confirmed as the third Formula 2 driver to graduate into Formula 1, replacing Daniil Kvyat at Alpha Tauri for 2021.
The Red Bull and Honda backed driver had been heavily linked with an F1 seat since the conclusion of the season, following two impressive rookie campaigns on the Road to F1.
The 20-year-old will become the first Japanese driver to race in F1 since Kamui Kobayashi, who last competed in the sport in 2014 with Caterham.
“Like most racing drivers, it has always been my goal to race in Formula 1, so I am very happy with this news," said Tsunoda, who ran in Tuesday’s Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi for Alpha Tauri.
"I want to thank Scuderia AlphaTauri, Red Bull and Dr. Marko for giving me this opportunity, and of course everyone from Honda, for all their support so far in my career, giving me great opportunities to race in Europe.
"I must also thank the teams that I have raced with to get to this point, particularly Carlin, with whom I have learned so much this year. I realise that I will be carrying the hopes of a lot of Japanese F1 fans next year and I will be doing my best for them too.”
Tsunoda finished ninth in Formula 3 in his first ever season racing in Europe, tallying up a win and two podiums. The 20-year-old followed this up with an even stronger campaign in Formula 2, as he battled for the title in 2020, scoring three wins and seven podiums.
Narrowly missing out to 2021 HAAS driver Mick Schumacher in the race for the crown, Tsunoda finished as the highest placed rookie, taking third, just one point off Callum Ilott in second.
“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," said Franz Tost, AlphaTauri Team Principal.
"Watching him in Formula 2 this year, he has demonstrated the right mix of racing aggression and good technical understanding. During the test in Imola in November when he drove our 2018 car, his lap times were very consistent over a race simulation, he progressed throughout the day and gave our engineers useful feedback.
"In addition, his integration with the Honda engineers has been seamless, which certainly helps. At the test in Abu Dhabi this week, he proved to be a fast learner and that he is ready to make the step to Formula 1."