AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost has said it was important to create a testing plan for Yuki Tsunoda before pre-season.
The Japanese racer has been on a rapid rise through the categories after only arriving in Europe a few years ago.
And in 2020, the Honda-backed driver had his strongest campaign to date, finishing P3 in what was his rookie season in the Formula 2 Championship.
With a superlicence then in the bag, Tsunoda got the call to join AlphaTauri for 2021, replacing Daniil Kvyat.
But preparing for a new campaign in 2021 is a very daunting task for any driver who has switched teams with pre-season testing in Bahrain slashed to a day-and-a-half, so for a rookie it is even more challenging to get up to speed.
So to ease the pressure on Tsunoda somewhat, AlphaTauri arranged testing sessions at Imola and Misano using the 2019 STR14 Toro Rosso, repainted in AlphaTauri colours.
“You can’t prepare a driver well if you’re only sitting in a Formula 1 car for a day-and-a-half as a newcomer,” Tost told Motorsport-Magazin.com.
“When Yuki got the superlicence after finishing a great third in Formula 2 last year, it was clear we had to find a corresponding winter testing programme for him.
“It was a huge effort. We brought the mechanics here three weeks ago. They were then quarantined for two weeks, otherwise it wouldn’t work.
“He should have completed about 3,000 kilometres in a Formula 1 car by the start of the season and understand, at least in broad terms, what this is all about.”
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) February 3, 2021
Pierre Gasly was also supposed to take part in the sessions but was ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19.
“Pierre was supposed to be in the car in Misano but because he tested positive for Covid-19, the test day fell through for him,” Tost added.
“Now we have to see how we put together another programme for Pierre. It’s not just about the test, it’s also about photo opportunities and so on. We have to postpone all of this a little bit.
“But let’s see it positively – better now than during the season.”