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Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01
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Opinion

The driver Red Bull has so far overlooked in its F1 future plans

OPINION: Any driver worth his salt (and is available) has been linked to Red Bull in recent weeks. As speculation continues to swirl, one driver on the outer edge of the conversation has a chance to state his case and this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix is the perfect opportunity – even if his future lies elsewhere…

Through Formula 1's 74-year history, a Japanese driver is yet to win a grand prix.

There have been podiums, sure, and a series of impressive drives throughout that history - but none of the 21 Japanese racers who have attempted to qualify for an F1 race have ever basked in the glory of standing upon the top step. Takuma Sato was supposed to be the driver who broke that unwanted streak when he joined the championship in 2002, but his F1 tenure tailed off despite Honda support and he instead became a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner.

Then there was Kamui Kobayashi, who burst onto the scene with Toyota as a replacement for the injured Timo Glock at the end of 2009, but the Amagasaki-born racer bagged just one podium (fittingly at the 2012 Suzuka race) in a midfield career. Like Sato, he won a prestigious race outside of F1, becoming the winner of the 2021 edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours after years of misfortune in the day-long event with Toyota – plus he is also a two-time World Endurance champion (2019-20 and 2021).

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