AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost believes Red Bull youngster Yuki Tsunoda needs a minimum of three years in Formula 1 before his talent can be truly judged.
Tsunoda, the grid's youngest driver at 21, endured a rollercoaster debut season in the sport last year.
The Japanese racer finished ninth on his Grand Prix debut and placed fourth in the dramatic season-finale in Abu Dhabi.
However, he developed a reputation for crashing his AlphaTauri on numerous occasions during an inconsistent season, and for his brutal assessments via the team radio.
Tsunoda constantly fighting for his Red Bull career
Those incidents left some onlookers fearing that Tsunoda's time in the sport could prove short and sweet, with Red Bull boasting an impressive list of drivers waiting in the wings.
These included juniors Liam Lawson and Juri Vips, as well as the sidelined Alex Albon as the reserve for both Red Bull teams.
But the decision was made to keep Tsunoda behind the wheel of the AlphaTauri for another season, alongside race-winning teammate Pierre Gasly.
"He's done his first season; Pierre is in his fifth season. You can't expect that, in the first season, a driver already has this consistency," Tost said, speaking exclusively to RacingNews365.com.
Tost has been the man in charge at Red Bull's sister team since 2006 and has had the likes of Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Carlos Sainz pass through on their way to bigger and better things.
However, it's not all success stories in Faenza, where the Italian team are based. There have been premature promotions and multiple demotions, most notably for Daniil Kvyat and Albon.
Verstappen needed time to learn
In an ideal world, all young Red Bull drivers would be given at least three years to settle into the world of F1 and develop their talents, says Tost – time that even the world-beating Max Verstappen would have benefitted from.
"Of course, there are exceptions," he continued, alluding to Verstappen's almost-instant rise from the junior categories, through Toro Rosso, to Red Bull.
"In those days, when Max came to Red Bull, it was another situation – like also when Vettel came here.
"Max won the first race [for Red Bull] in Barcelona because of the crash of the Mercedes, but it took him a while to get familiar with the team.
"There were some other incidents after he left Toro Rosso, which means it took him some time to learn, also at Red Bull."
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Tsunoda deserves patience in search for consistency
Vettel and Verstappen have left a trodden path to the top for all Red Bull juniors to follow. Now, Tsunoda appears set to be given the time to grow into the driver Tost is adamant he can become.
His start to the 2022 season has been without major drama and, in the only race his car allowed him to compete in, he placed inside the points.
"I hope that this year he will become more consistently fast. There will also be some crashes, whatever. This is the reason I always say that, to educate a driver to a really good level, you need three years minimum," explained Tost.
"The first year, it's just completely [about] learning. It's not only the driving, the driving is the easiest one! It's everything around the technical side, marketing and press. Every weekend you are confronted with a new situation.
"I'm convinced that Yuki will do it. I'm also convinced that he can make a successful future. The rest? We will see."
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