Honda-backed Tsunoda ended the seven-year look forward to a full-time Japanese grand prix driver by securing a seat at AlphaTauri alongside Pierre Gasly for 2021, incomes plaudits for his performances in pre-season testing and the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 20-year-old completed ninth in Bahrain to turn into the first Japanese driver ever to earn points on his debut.
Ex-Honda junior Matsushita, who raced in opposition to Tsunoda in F2 final 12 months because the latter fought for the title at Carlin, tipped his compatriot to have an “superb” debut season, highlighting the sturdy level that allowed him to achieve the feeder collection the place he failed.
“I feel Tsunoda’s good level is he doesn’t care,” Matsushita advised Autosport. “If he makes a mistake, he simply strikes onto the following one. That is actually necessary.
“Each time you make a mistake, most individuals suppose, ‘subsequent time, I can not make a mistake’. However he simply says, ‘I made a mistake, I realized’ and strikes on. That’s his large energy.
“AlphaTauri is kind of aggressive, simply ok for the highest 10, so I feel he’s going to have an incredible season. And I understand how fast Gasly is, I raced with him [in 2015 and 2016] in GP2. Let’s see what Tsunoda can do in opposition to him. I’m actually excited to see.”
Matsushita additionally remarked how quickly Tsunoda progressed since his first season in Europe in 2019, when he undertook twin campaigns in FIA F3 and Euroformula Open.
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02
Photograph by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“In 2019 he was doing F3 and that was the primary time I met him,” stated Matsushita. “We did a race collectively in Euroformula Open [at the Hungaroring]. That point he was not that aggressive, did various errors.
“However I feel final 12 months working with Carlin he improved lots and he grew to become a lot calmer.
“In qualifying there’s little doubt he might be fast. Within the races he was typically sort of conservative at first, after which pushing on the finish as a result of he nonetheless has the tyre.
“In F1 it’s important to be aggressive instantly from the beginning. That’s the factor he wants to enhance. However I feel he can do it.”
Matsushita contrasted Tsunoda’s speedy rise together with his personal stint in GP2 and F2, which spanned 5 seasons between 2015 and 2020 and resulted in seven wins and a finest championship end of sixth – which got here in 2019 with Carlin.
The 27-year-old added he was relishing the extra relaxed ambiance of SUPER GT after signing as a manufacturing facility Nissan driver over the winter.
“I used to be attempting to achieve F1, and it was simply in entrance of me, particularly in 2019 as a result of I used to be nonetheless supported by Honda and I knew if I did an excellent job then I might have gotten the seat,” he stated.
“The strain was so excessive, however I used to be creating further strain for myself. I used to be pondering, ‘I’ve to do that, I’ve to do this.’ It makes you sort of stiff. Final 12 months, I knew it was my final probability, so I needed to put completely every part on the road. And it was not good.
“I’m far more relaxed right here [in SUPER GT] in comparison with once I was in Europe. Now I don’t have to show something. I’m simply having fun with myself.”