Yuki Tsunoda may need a day or two to recover from his Formula 1 test debut in the Alpha Tauri STR13, admitting that the physical demands of the car caught him by surprise when he took to the cockpit on Wednesday at Imola.
The Carlin racer was handed the opportunity to test the team’s 2018 machine in Italy as reward for his successful rookie campaign in Formula 2, where he currently sits third in the Championship.
“(It was) easier for the driving, but also harder for the more physical aspects,” said Tsunoda. “I expected it to be a little bit less hard from a physical (perspective), especially the neck because I have quite a lot of confidence that I don’t get a tired neck.
“In my life, even in Formula 2 I don’t feel the neck much and my neck is pretty strong, but after I drove the Formula 1 car it was pretty hard.
“It felt hard, especially in the braking zones, the braking performance, I always went (moves head forwards) and I tried to avoid going like that but still the braking power is more than I expected. So I need to do lots of training until the next session or next event I drive Formula 1, to prepare a lot.”
It wasn’t just the physical demands which caught him off-guard, but also the pace and power of the Alpha Tauri, admitting that it was a shock to the system when he first put his foot on the throttle.
“The first session was raining, but even in the rain there is really, really big performance when you initially went on throttle, even in wet conditions it was more than I felt in Formula 2 in dry conditions.
“That was the biggest surprise for me. And also the second thing for me was the braking performance in dry conditions was really big. Huge.”
The test also saw the Honda and Red Bull junior secure the necessary 300km required to get a basic Super Licence, which will allow him to drive in an F1 Free Practice 1 session.
He is touted for an FP1 drive before the end of the season, having already been confirmed for the young drivers’ test in Abu Dhabi at the end of the F1 season.
“If I drive (F1) free practice one in Bahrain, its going to be a very tight schedule,” he said. “I need to adapt quickly to each car.