Helmut Marko called out on rare ‘off the mark’ judgement as undesirable Red Bull talent shines

Jamie Woodhouse
Helmut Marko, Red Bull, looks serious during 2022 pre-season testing.

Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko.

While Red Bull driver programme boss Helmut Marko does not miss the mark often when it comes to judging the talent of a driver, Channel 4 pundit Billy Monger feels Yuki Tsunoda has proven him wrong.

Tsunoda made his debut with Red Bull’s second team – then known as AlphaTauri – back in 2021, though throughout his career has been forced to battle a perception that he is not at the level of other Red Bull Junior Team graduates as the backing of Honda – Red Bull’s power unit supplier – played a key role in him landing the seat.

Helmut Marko ‘eating humble pie’ over Yuki Tsunoda

In the years since, Red Bull has had chances to move the drivers in their two teams around, though Tsunoda has never been considered as a serious candidate, a driver who Marko did not rate.

The likes of Max Verstappen, Sebastian Vettel, Carlos Sainz and Daniel Ricciardo are all shining examples of Marko’s ability to spot talent, but with Tsunoda now excelling in F1 2024 and at last earning the praise of Marko, it was suggested by former British racer Monger that Tsunoda is one which slipped through the net for Marko.

After Channel 4 F1 presenter Steve Jones said that Marko “might be eating humble pie” at the moment having initially been forced to give in to Honda’s wishes on Tsunoda, Monger added: “Dr. Marko, he normally gets it right, but with Yuki, it seems like he might have been a little way off the mark.

“Because it took him a bit of time to find his feet in Formula 1, but he certainly has settled in now and I’d say doing a great job.

“I mean, it’s just that ruthless nature that Red Bull and now the RB team [has], they get through drivers like fun.”

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And Ricciardo – who Tsunoda is unexpectedly putting in the shade at RB in F1 2024 – risks becoming the next casualty if he cannot improve in the upcoming races, all while Tsunoda has made himself a contender for that 2025 Red Bull seat which many believed Ricciardo was destined to secure.

However, Tsunoda made it clear that he is not only hoping to impress Red Bull with his strong start to the season.

Tsunoda has been linked with a move to Aston Martin as they prepare for their Honda-powered era from 2026.

“My plan doesn’t affect anything for Red Bull,” Tsunoda told Channel 4. “In the end to be honest, Red Bull will decide what drivers they want.

“But I was always in the Red Bull family since a long time ago and that’s what I was always aiming for, so if I could be a Red Bull driver, that would be great.

“But at the same time, also just show my performance, show my value, how good I am to the other teams as well to get interest as well.”

Tsunoda has scored all seven of RB’s points so far this season, the team sitting P6 in the Constructors’ Championship after four rounds.

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