Yuki Tsunoda has revealed that he hopes to one day be able to prove himself alongside Max Verstappen in his ambition to become an F1 World Champion.
After mixed fortunes during his rookie season in 2021, the Japanese driver has had a stronger start to his sophomore campaign, having scored points in three out of the six races that he has started.
This also currently puts him ahead of teammate Pierre Gasly in the World Championship standings. Looking ahead, though, Tsunoda's dreams stretch beyond battling in the midfield.
Speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com, Tsunoda was asked what he hoped for from his Formula 1 future.
"Of course, [I want to become] World Champion," he answered.
Racing alongside Verstappen in the Red Bull family
Tsunoda has a World Champion as a reference point from within the Red Bull stable, given that Verstappen – winner of the 2021 title – is racing for the main team.
As such, the youngster admits that it would be a good experience for him to compete alongside Verstappen one day.
"It would be nice driving with him," Tsunoda explained.
"I think [he is] currently the best driver on the grid – next to me! [I have been able to] learn lots of things [from] him when I got to Red Bull. If I was to drive with him that would be good.
"Of course, to be World Champion, I have to beat him. If I beat him, you can feel like one of the best drivers in Formula 1.
"Max is kind of the target of what I have to aim for, or the reference driver I have to aim [for]. Hopefully I can drive with him in the future for the same team."
Viewed by others:
Learning from AlphaTauri teammate Gasly
For now, Tsunoda is racing alongside Gasly in what is their second year as teammates, and the Japanese feels that he has learned a lot from his fellow AlphaTauri driver.
"Of course, [with] the driving, I learned a lot of things," he revealed.
"But especially, I learned lots of things outside of racing, like how he is behaving or how he prepared for the race.
"Last year, [there] was a big difference at the beginning of the season, [in] how he was preparing for the season."
One of the key differences where Tsunoda noticed this was in Gasly's fitness preparations for a Formula 1 campaign, with the new driver previously feeling that he was "not fit enough" himself.
There are other areas where he believes he has learned from his teammate, including the build-up to a race week.
"Those things I learned a lot," he added.
"Those details make me improve as a driver. We also have a good relationship outside of racing, so that's good."
Hopes for the future in F1
Tsunoda also says that he enjoys a good relationship with Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko.
"I like him," the AlphaTauri driver said.
"When it's racing, there are some times when [he is] strict, but for me, I like how he approaches [telling] things to the junior drivers."
The role that Marko plays in deciding Tsunoda's future in the sport remains to be seen. In terms of the wider outlook, though, Tsunoda hopes to see Formula 1's fanbase continue to grow, and he is particularly excited about racing in front of his home supporters at the Japanese Grand Prix.
"There's a lot of fans that love Formula 1 [in Japan]," he explained.
"We will see how the Japanese Grand Prix [goes]. There's a lot of Max fans as well, because Max [won] with a Japanese engine. [That] made Japanese Formula 1 fans happy."
Video: How much does it cost to become an F1 driver?
RacingNews365.com breaks down how much it costs drivers to make their way up the ranks in the world of motorsport and become an F1 driver.