Bernie Collins has suggested part of the reason Yuki Tsunoda held onto his AlphaTauri seat was due to the sponsorship money Honda bring to Red bull.
Neither party has explicitly stated what the figure is but it is understood Honda pay a significant amount to Red Bull for their academy driver Tsunoda to be part of the team.
And with Liam Lawson knocking on the door, Collins reckons Tsunoda’s sponsorship has helped him keep hold of the seat for 2024.
Bernie Collins believes sponsorship behind Yuki Tsunoda retention
Red Bull were finding three doesn’t go into two when Lawson deputised for Daniel Ricciardo who was ruled out with a hand injury in Zandvoort.
But Lawson was the one to miss out when it came to deciding 2024 contracts with the young Kiwi forced to spend another year on the sidelines.
Collins, who was previously Aston Martin race strategist and now does punditry for Sky Sports, said it was a “pity” some things in F1 are led by sponsors.
“It’s a pity in F1 that some things are led by sponsors, some things are led by dealings, whatever, but on pure performance, he should be in a car, he should be in a seat,” she told Speedcafe.
“And arguably, that should have been the AlphaTauri seat with Daniel Ricciardo because you would have a very strong line-up of a young guy that’s clearly very good, and Ricciardo who has very strong pace and a lot of experience.
“That would work really well, you’d imagine, for the AlphaTauri team, that mix. That’s not happened, which is a pity.”
Collins did however take an interest in what Lawson does in 2024 as he spent most of his time in 2023 competing in Super Formula where he finished P2.
“What’s going to be very interesting going forward now is what Liam’s able to do over the next season. [He] needs to be in a strong position to step into that car,” she said.
“We don’t know what happened with the Williams seat if it was offered to him, and then he said he wanted to stay in the Red Bull family. We don’t know the answers to those questions.
“But you would like to think that other team managers are sitting, looking at his performance, going ‘to get in a car that quickly is no mean feat’.
“So yeah, I totally think he deserves that spot on the grid, and it’s a bit of a pity that he’s missed it.
“But he has given himself one fantastic interview. He cannot do any better than he did.”