Tsunoda speaks out on Aston Martin & Honda speculation: “I’m focusing on performing for Red Bull”

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Photo credits: Scuderia AlphaTauri

When it was announced that Honda would link up with Aston Martin as the works engine manufacturer for the team in 2026, there was an inevitable speculation that Honda would want Japanese drivers onboard. As such, Yuki Tsunoda is a name which has been mentioned widely on social media. As a result of such growing speculation, Tsunoda used media day during the weekend of the Qatar Grand Prix to make clear that he hopes he has not created a “misunderstanding” between himself and Red Bull Racing.

The speculation first arose following comments heard during Honda’s press conference back in May which announced the Aston Martin 2026 partnership. At that time, Honda Racing Corporation boss Koji Watanabe was very keen on the idea of Yuki Tsunoda joining the team as he said: “He is from our school and he is doing very well. We’re very happy to see him succeeding. But we still have three years to go so it’s too early to say what will happen. I don’t think it’s the time to talk about this. But we’re hoping he will become a candidate.”

Even if it still may not be the time to talk about this, it has not stopped many people doing so. Also, with Aston Martin CEO Martin Whitmarsh having spoken back then in a similar style about Tsunoda saying: “I’m sure he’d like to drive for a Honda-powered car. Let’s see how he makes progress in the next couple of years and hopefully, we can have serious discussions.”

The discussion on social media appears to have already begun.

During Thursday’s media day at the Qatar Grand Prix, Tsunoda was asked whether he feels his current form is putting him into contention for a Red Bull Racing seat in the future.

“I hope so. To be honest, I really don’t know about it,” Tsunoda said. “The main thing is, I don’t want Red Bull to misunderstand something – for example, that I’m just focusing now on Aston Martin or anything. I’m in AlphaTauri and I’ve been with Red Bull since I was 18 years old. I’m focusing on performing for Red Bull. Not for Aston Martin or something like that.

“Hopefully they [Red Bull] haven’t misunderstood those things and hopefully they really consider my future seriously,” Tsunoda stated on the matter.

“If I perform better than other drivers then hopefully, they consider more,”

Having revealed such information, and one which was effectively unprompted, Tsunoda went on to explain why he was speaking out and what he meant by the term ‘misunderstanding’. 

“Seems a bit like [because] Honda and Aston Martin are in partnership [from 2026], and I saw some on social media that Red Bull thinks I’m going already to Aston Martin and that’s why they don’t want to put me in the Red Bull or whatever,” Tsunoda said.

“I don’t know if that’s true or not, because it’s just social media. But if that [Red Bull Racing choosing not to promote him] is the truth, that [a future move to Aston Martin] is not the case. But anyway, I just have to show my performance, to convince them, to make sure that I can have the real material to be in the Red Bull,” Tsunoda concluded.

To have any chance of being in the discussion of Aston Martin or even partnering Max Verstappen at Red Bull Racing, Tsunoda needs to be performing regularly at each race weekend. The reliability of AlphaTauri this season has certainly impacted that, but he is eager to help his team make an unexpected challenge for P7 in the Constructors’ Championship although he did remind people “obviously we have to be P9 first.” seeing how AlphaTauri are currently bottom of the standings.

Yuki Tsunoda is well known for his honest, open and lengthy answers and having been in the pinnacle of motorsport for 3 years now, and seen his teammates come and go at AlphaTauri, it is little surprise that he would want to make clear his thoughts. He certainly aspires to drive for Red Bull Racing one day and test himself against Max Verstappen.

Either way, what was also clear in Tsunoda’s response about his relationship with Honda is that he feels they are an organisation that just want to see Japanese drivers succeed in the sport. Tsunoda believes that they would just be happy to see him be a success whether he was driving for Honda or not: “They want [me] as a Japanese driver to be successful. Obviously, it would be fortunate if we work together and it would be a success, but in the end they don’t care about it. And that’s what I really like about Honda, they don’t care which team you are in.

“So, I don’t think they’re really focused on Aston Martin or whatever, they’re just focusing on me as a driver, as Yuki, to support making me a successful driver,”