RB boss predicts ‘pampered’ Yuki Tsunoda to reach ‘interesting level’ if key trend continues

Jamie Woodhouse
RB driver Yuki Tsunoda fields questions in the press conference ahead of the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

RB driver Yuki Tsunoda.

With RB principal Laurent Mekies explaining that Yuki Tsunoda has been “pampered” by the team to mature and progress each year, he feels a further step in F1 2024 will put him at a “very, very interesting level” with a Red Bull seat perhaps up for grabs.

Honda-backed Tsunoda had quite the rapid rise up the junior categories and into Formula 1 with Red Bull’s junior team, then known as AlphaTauri, with the F1 2024 campaign marking his fourth in the series.

‘Pampered’ Yuki Tsunoda can reach ‘very interesting level’

In that time Tsunoda has become noted for his fiery temperament over the radio, a trait which he has tried to rein in, though his reaction to team orders involving RB team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in Bahrain, followed by an altercation on the cooldown lap, shows there is still work to do on the maturity side, by Tsunoda’s own admission.

Nonetheless, Tsunoda has shown the overall progression each year to convince Red Bull to retain him, Mekies explaining that the Japanese racer has been “pampered” along this process and is now a step away from reaching a “very interesting level” at a potentially crucial time, with a seat possibly available in the dominant senior team for 2025.

“Since he arrived in Formula 1 he has always taken an important step of maturation each season and, if he confirms another one, I think he will reach a very, very interesting level,” Mekies told Motorsport.com.

“The team has always given him confidence, pampered him and allowed him to integrate more and more and grow year after year.

“I believe that together with Daniel he forms a good pair, then we will have to evaluate whether they will both perform at their best or not.”

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And that last point is particularly poignant for Ricciardo, the eight-time Grand Prix winner who went into F1 2024 talked about as a prime contender to replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull for 2025, but yet has suffered a difficult start to the current campaign.

Tsunoda outqualified Ricciardo in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia while also finishing ahead of him in the latter race. Those aforementioned Bahrain team orders meanwhile saw Ricciardo cross the line P13 and a place ahead of Tsunoda there.

But while it has been a shaky start to the season for Ricciardo, Mekies believes the motivation is very much there, while he also explained Ricciardo’s “added value” beyond just speed.

“I think he is motivated and focused,” said Mekies of Ricciardo. “We have rediscovered a driver who works technically to a very high standard, beyond speed for the team he is a very important added value.

“Then it’s nice to have rediscovered a very contented and smiling Daniel.”

Ricciardo needs to start turning that motivation into results though, starting from his upcoming home race, the Australian Grand Prix.

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