Red Bull duo headline Toyota Racing Series' 2020 grid

Marcus Simmons

Tsunoda, who is heading to Formula 2 with Carlin this season, is one of three talents from last year’s FIA Formula 3 Championship on the TRS entry list, along with 2019 champion and fellow Red Bull junior Liam Lawson and ex-Sauber Junior Team driver Lirim Zendeli.

For the first time since 2017, TRS is back to a full 20-car field for this season, its first with the new Tatuus-built FT-60. This is effectively the same chassis as the Regional F3 car used in the Formula Regional European Championship, the Formula Renault Eurocup and Asian F3.

The high-intensity series begins at Highlands Motorsport Park with the first of five triple-headers on consecutive weekends, culminating with the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild on 15-16 February.

“I know that the competition will be tough – there are a lot of very good drivers and many of them know the circuits,” said Tsunoda, who joins Lawson at the successful M2 Competition squad.

“At least I have already had the chance to try the car: I had a day at Paul Ricard with M2 driving the car I will use in New Zealand. It had a different engine but otherwise it was the same car and that was a very useful test.”

“The M2 team were very friendly and professional so that also makes me look forward to the New Zealand series.

“It will not be easy but I know that I must at least aim for consistent top three finishes through the series. I am looking for the superlicence points that I need for F1.”

Other leading imports from the European motorsport scene include two Brazilians: esports star Igor Fraga, who was third in FRegional last season, races for M2; Renault F1 Junior and Nicolas Todt protege Caio Collet, who was the top rookie in Formula Renault Eurocup last season, is part of the attack of Mtec Motorsport.

Mtec has a new collaboration with leading FRenault team R-ace GP, for which Collet raced in 2019, with the French organisation taking control of the team’s engineering.

Argentinian Franco Colapinto, a protege of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso and the reigning Spanish Formula 4 champion, is also among the field, and will race for Kiwi Motorsport.

Apart from M2, Mtec and Kiwi, the fourth and final team is the Giles Motorsport squad of former McLaren F1 mechanic Steve Giles – Zendeli is this team’s most likely prospect to shine.

The Toyota Racing Series will be streamed on Motorsport.tv, starting with this weekend's opener at Highlands Motorsport Park

2020 TRS line-up

M2 Competition: Yuki Tsunoda, Liam Lawson, Emilien Denner, Igor Fraga, Ido Cohen, Rui Andrade
Giles Motorsport: Lirim Zendeli, Gregoire Saucy, Henning Enqvist, Chelsea Herbert
Mtec Motorsport: Caio Collet, Petr Ptacek, Oliver Rasmussen, Lucas Petersson, Jackson Walls
Kiwi Motorsport: Franco Colapinto, Amaury Cordeel, Axel Gnos, Spike Kohlbecker, Jose Blanco*, Tijmen van der Helm*

* van der Helm will replace Blanco from round three onwards