Christian Horner weighs in on Yuki Tsunoda’s Red Bull chances

Michelle Foster
Yuki Tsunoda speaking with an AlphaTauri engineer. Australia April 2023

Yuki Tsunoda speaking with an AlphaTauri engineer on the grid before the race. Australia April 2023

Christian Horner doesn’t believe Yuki Tsunoda is “yet” at a Red Bull level but that doesn’t mean he won’t be in a year’s time.

Joining AlphaTauri in 2021, his door to Formula 1 opened by Red Bull’s engine partner Honda, Tsunoda has improved year on year and this season finds himself AlphaTauri’s team leader after Pierre Gasly’s exit.

But while team boss Franz Tost usually has a three-year plan, believing that is how many years newcomers need to find their feet in Formula 1, he reckons Tsunoda could do with another season at the junior team before plying his trade with Red Bull.

That would tie-in with the team’s current driver contracts as, while Max Verstappen has a long-term Red Bull contract, Sergio Perez is only on the books until the next of next season.

“All I can say is that Yuki is on the right track. He has improved in every respect,” Tost recently said. “But I think he should drive at AlphaTauri again in 2024.

“In 2025, I think he will finally be ready for Red Bull.”

That was put to Red Bull team boss Horner with the Briton agreeing with Tost that right now Tsunoda is not at the level of a Red Bull driver.

But, he adds, that doesn’t mean he won’t be come 2025. recommends

Yuki Tsunoda would welcome Sebastian Vettel as replacement for Franz Tost

Yuki Tsunoda ‘frustrated’ after Nyck de Vries contact causes Baku sprint DNF

“I don’t think he’s at our level yet but he’s making great progress and we’re seeing he’s maturing as a driver,” he said as per the Mirror.

“He certainly has speed and I think as he gains experience, I’m sure he’s going to become more rounded. I mean, he’s driven some strong races so far this year.”

He added: “We’re not short of options for the team but we have a commitment with both of our drivers. The best thing he [Tsunoda] can do is perform at a very high level in the AlphaTauri.”

Tsunoda himself concedes he still has a lot to improve on before he’s up for taking on Verstappen at Red Bull.

“To be honest, I’m really focusing on what we have now in AlphaTauri,” he recently said. “There’s still lots of things to work on.

“Obviously, I’m happy to hear from him [Tost], especially positive things.

“Being a Formula 1 driver, you always have to be ready when you have a call from a top team.

“In the end, everyone’s ready, it’s just how much you can extract from yourself every race.

“I’ve been feeling ready but at the same time, first of all, I need to improve myself more.”

Tsunoda has scored two points to date this season with back-to-back P10s at the Australian and Azerbaijan Grands Prix.