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Tsunoda pays tribute to “biggest supporter” Tost after AlphaTauri F1 exit

Tost has spent 18 years at the helm of the Faenza outfit formerly known as Toro Rosso. In its role as a Red Bull junior team, Tost has notably presided over Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen, Daniel Ricciardo, Carlos Sainz and Alex Albon.

He was also a big backer of Tsunoda, who in 2024 will contest his fourth season for the team. The current AlphaTauri racer reckons Tost’s “backup” was key to him remaining on the right path, saying: “Obviously, without Franz, I'm not here [in F1]. He is definitely giving me a lot of advice every race.

“Even in the bad moments, good moments, we share with each other the happiness or sadness. He is always the biggest supporter in the team.

“He always trusts my talent, my speed, everything. Even in the first half of the season when I was struggling in my first year, still he was believing that I can do it. Without that kind of good backup, I wouldn't have been able to develop as much as a driver.

“Probably I would rush much more and just lost the way I should have gone. How he treated in that time was really helpful.”

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04 (Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images)

When there were periods of uncertainty regarding Tsunoda’s F1 future, Tost waded in to say that an F1 driver needs three seasons to prove they can compete at the top level.

Asked if this was a fair timeline, Tsunoda replied: “First year, there was multiple reasons, but I wasn’t able to really show a performance in the first half of the season especially.

“But from last year, I started to get better and my confidence getting better. Now I am just really focusing more to be complete driver, not just be fast.

“Also giving feedback for development or how mature you can be in a difficult situation, those are my targets.

“Every year I am able to find my weakness, which is good thing and I have been just working on that.”

During Tost’s tenure, the team won the 2008 (Vettel) and 2020 (Pierre Gasly) Italian Grands Prix.

But AlphaTauri came unstuck upon the arrival of the ground-effects regulations in 2022, falling from sixth to ninth in the constructors’ championship. It was then bottom throughout the middle part of this season before an aggressive string of upgrades paved the way for a late climb to eighth place.

Tost wrung out the changes to the aerodynamic department to arrest the dip, but after the death of Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz last year and a change of senior management, the long-serving boss’s exit was announced in late April. His replacement is Ferrari sporting director Laurent Mekies.

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