Helmut Marko slams ‘too slow’ Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda as Red Bull condition set

Jamie Woodhouse
Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo

RB's Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo.

Red Bull senior advisor Helmut Marko has said that either Daniel Ricciardo or Yuki Tsunoda must be clearly ahead of the other to push for a 2025 seat with the senior team, though bluntly explained that neither are impressing.

With F1 2024 marking the final season of Sergio Perez’s Red Bull contract, much was made about the battle for that 2025 Red Bull seat which it was believed would feature Ricciardo versus Perez, with Ricciardo seen as the more likely winner. So far though, this has definitely not been the case.

Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda ‘too slow’ in races

Red Bull’s junior team retained Ricciardo and Tsunoda for F1 2024, though after undergoing a major overhaul, the team now known as RB were initially being talked about as a dark horse after strengthening their ties with the main team, much to the annoyance of figures like McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown.

Such concerns have been eased though after a poor start to the season for RB, who go into Round 3 in Australia, Ricciardo’s home race, searching for their first point of the season.

And it is Tsunoda against the odds who has started the season stronger, putting Ricciardo’s dream Red Bull return in jeopardy especially considering Marko had demanded more from the eight-time grands prix winner. Now, he is making it clear that both RB drivers need to step it up.

“There’s a lot at stake for [Tsunoda and Ricciardo]. Both might be hoping for a seat at Red Bull, and one should be well ahead of the other,” Marko told Sky Germany.

“So far Ricciardo is a bit behind. But let’s put it this way: Tsunoda’s qualifying speed is okay. But in the race, both are too slow.

“I think one point would have been possible in each of the first two races. It’s very difficult to score points behind the top five [teams] and, when you have an opportunity, you can’t afford to make mistakes.”

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So, with Marko confirming that reserve driver Liam Lawson “has to sit in the car first and prove himself” after an impressive 2023 stint in place of the injured Ricciardo, Perez is the one sitting pretty right now in this battle for the 2025 Red Bull seat, having started F1 2024 with a pair of P2 finishes.

“Sergio is in a very good position at the moment,” said Marko. “He has delivered two very good races and he’s second in the championship. The question of who should replace Perez doesn’t really arise.”

However, that did not stop Marko from adding a fresh layer of uncertainty for Perez, as Marko hinted that a younger driver, perhaps other than Lawson, could factor into Red Bull’s planning for the future.

“But it’s about the future. Perez is no longer the youngest, nor is Ricciardo,” Marko added.

“And if you then take other aspects into account, another driver could certainly be included in this process.”

Perez has won six grands prix so far in his F1 career, five of those achieved with Red Bull.

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