(Reuters) - Honda protege Yuki Tsunoda, who is in the frame for an AlphaTauri race seat next season, had his first Formula One test at Imola on Wednesday and completed more than a race distance.
The 20-year-old Formula Two racer covered 352km in a 2018 Toro Rosso car at the Italian track, enough to make him eligible for a Friday first free practice session with the Honda-powered outfit.
The Japanese is expected to graduate to Formula One as team mate to French race winner Pierre Gasly and in place of Russian Daniil Kvyat.
The youngster will need to secure a superlicence but is on target to do that, ranking third in Formula Two with four races remaining in Bahrain.
Bahrain is hosting two Formula One grands prix this month and taking part in Friday practice sessions would also add points to Tsunoda’s superlicence tally.
The Japanese, who will also test in Abu Dhabi after the F1 season-ender there, said he was struck by the power and brake performance.
“I need a lot of training until my next events in Formula One to prepare,” he said.
“There is so much more a driver has to do in an F1 car, but I had practised dealing with all the extra switches on the steering wheel in the simulator.”
Team principal Franz Tost said it had been a productive day, despite damp early conditions.
“Yuki got immediately familiar with the car, which means that when we changed to the dry tyres he improved his lap times straight away and it was quite impressive.
“After the lunch break we continued with new sets of tyres and he improved further, showing that he was feeling more comfortable in the car, lap by lap.”
“In his last run, he did a race simulation and he was very consistent, which is clear evidence he had everything under control.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar
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