Amid chatter suggesting Lance Stroll’s potential exit from Aston Martin, whispers of a possible replacement are making rounds.
The name popping up is Yuki Tsunoda, even though he was just confirmed to be part of Red Bull’s Alpha Tauri team for another year.
Dr Helmut Marko commented to Sport1: “Tsunoda is under contract with us.
“If Aston Martin were interested in him next year, they would have to come to an agreement with us first.”
Rumours in the Qatar paddock suggest that Lawrence Stroll, the head honcho of Aston Martin, might have received a hefty EUR 800 million team buyout proposition from title sponsor, Aramco, the renowned Saudi oil entity.
There’s talk that billionaire Stroll could be reconsidering his stakes in Formula 1, particularly with his son Lance’s lacklustre performance this year, especially when compared to his teammate, Fernando Alonso.
This situation hints at a potential vacancy, and Tsunoda seems to be the fitting candidate.
Though he has shown prowess at Alpha Tauri, the 23-year-old Tsunoda is more aligned as a Honda-endorsed driver.
It’s worth noting that Honda plans to pivot from partnering with Red Bull’s two squads to Aston Martin by 2026.
An announcement regarding Tsunoda’s 2024 stint with Alpha Tauri was slightly delayed. At the time, murmurs linked the hold-up to his Honda association.
Honda Racing Corporation’s top brass, Koji Watanabe, has now affirmed this speculation.
“(Franz) Tost-san and I agreed that we would first take a close look at the project for three years, and then evaluate it together and have a discussion around the summer of the third year,” he relayed to as-web.jp.
“Basically, there was a common understanding that he was an indispensable driver for Alpha Tauri. The reason it took so long to make the announcement was because we were working out the details.
“We were discussing various things about how Honda should support Alpha Tauri until 2025. About how it operates.”
Watanabe, when quizzed specifically about Tsunoda and Aston Martin, elaborated: “Our goal is to become number one in the world with Aston Martin after 2026, so we don’t want to let go of the pieces necessary to achieve that.
“I hope Tsunoda will grow up and become an essential piece for us by then. And I tell Yuki ‘It doesn’t matter where you go, you can go wherever you can win’.
“If we are a team that can provide that space, we would like the drivers to come. And if we are a bad Honda team, I don’t think they will want to come.”