Helmut Marko highlights key Yuki Tsunoda stumbling block that has now ‘gone’

Michelle Foster
Yuki Tsunoda celebrates in front of Daniel Ricciardo's garage

Yuki Tsunoda celebrates in front of Daniel Ricciardo's garage

Having lambasted Yuki Tsunoda in the past for his sweary rants and unhelpful feedback, Helmut Marko says the Red Bull hopeful’s outbursts have “gone” as he has “blossomed” as a driver.

Having arrived on the Formula 1 grid back in 2021 with Red Bull’s junior team, much was made about Tsunoda’s Honda ties opening that door for him.

Yuki Tsunoda could be in line for a Red Bull promotion

That he has stayed at the junior team for what is now his fourth season added to that given Red Bull having in the past either promoted after a year or two, or dropped the driver.

But with former junior team boss Franz Tost always insisting it takes three years for a driver to find his feet, Tsunoda is proving in his fourth year that giving a driver time can pay off. And pay off it has.

The 23-year-old has scored all seven of RB’s points, including one at his home Grand Prix in Japan, and has put his eight-time Grand Prix winning team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in the shade.

Tsunoda leads their qualifying battle 4-0, where he put his VCARB01 into Q3 three times, and their points tussle 7-0.

His performances have put the Japanese driver at the front of the queue should Red Bull opt to replace Sergio Perez next season and promote from within.

From being a driver criticised by Marko for his “bloody f*cking car” feedback to saying he has “really blossomed”, the Red Bull motorsport advisor is impressed with Tsunoda but isn’t yet ready to hand him Perez’s race seat.

“There are four races and Yuki has brought the car into Q3 three times,” he told Sky Deutschland. “He is consistent and the mistakes are a thing of the past.

“His lack of control on the radio is also gone. He’s really blossomed.”

“But,” he continued, “it’s April and we still have a lot of races left. We’ll look at the driver situation when the summer break comes.

“We want to watch it closely and make the right decision. That will certainly take until the summer.”

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However, should Red Bull decide not to promote Tsunoda next season, he could be in line for an Aston Martin seat with the Silverstone team moving onto Honda-power in 2026.

“He is primarily attractive for Honda, who are coming together with Aston Martin,” said former F1 driver Ralf Schumacher. “They will certainly have him on their radar as a Japanese driver if he develops like that.

“It’s so interesting outside of Red Bull, I’m not entirely sure, but if he continues to perform like that, then yes.”

RB, though, may want to hold onto him for a fifth season although RB CEO Peter Bayer accepts he has become “interesting” to other teams.

“He has been on a constant upward trend for six months,” he said.

“He is incredibly focused and concentrated and is physically one step further ahead. He is strong and persistent and has taken a step forward mentally.

“He’s grown from a teenager to an adult. He’s incredibly focused and a joy to drive.

“He’s becoming interesting for other teams and Red Bull is also keeping a close eye on what happens next with him.”

As for Daniel Ricciardo, who crashed on the opening lap at Suzuka, Bayer said: “The first analysis is that it was a racing accident. It’s very unlikely that someone would appear behind him on the right in this corner on the first lap.

“It’s a shame for him because he showed a great performance at the weekend.”

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