Pressure mounting on Yuki Tsunoda amidst AlphaTauri axing rumours

Michelle Foster
Yuki Tsunoda speaking in an interview in Singapore.

Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri race seat is on the line.

Facing the prospect of being dropped to a reserve driver role to make way for Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson, Danica Patrick says losing to his “brand new” teammates isn’t a “good sign” for Yuki Tsunoda.

Tsunoda is on to his third teammate for the season at AlphaTauri, the Japanese driver having first had Nyck de Vries then Ricciardo, and now Lawson is alongside him in the other AT04.

But while he’s the only one of the three to have scored points, Tsunoda’s race seat is reportedly on the line with Red Bull, AlphaTauri’s senior team, considering dropping him to a reserve driver role and putting Ricciardo and Lawson in the car next season.

AlphaTauri newcomers are ‘outshining’ Yuki Tsunoda

According to Racer’s Chris Medland, “there are no serious noises to suggest” Tsunoda could one day step up into a Red Bull race seat and, as such, “he could well be moved into a reserve position with the main team” to make way for potential future Red Bull drivers Ricciardo and Lawson.

That Tsunoda has already lost one race to Ricciardo, the Aussie P13 on his return at the Belgian Grand Prix to his teammate’s 15th place, and one to Lawson, who was 13th on his debut to Tsunoda’s 15th, doesn’t bode well for the Japanese driver.

He will also start Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix behind Lawson with the Kiwi an impressive tenth in qualifying while Tsunoda qualified down in 15th place.

That Lawson is the best-placed Red Bull driver and was the one to push Max Verstappen out of qualifying has been noticed.

“They’ve been outshining Yuki,” former IndyCar driver turned pundit Patrick told Sky Sports. “I mean even in the first weekend in the car, Daniel was faster so that isn’t a good look.

“And we all know how competitive it is in Formula One to keep your seat and you have to be fast.

“And you know, it’s one thing to be against your teammate the whole year and not necessarily know the difference. But then when you get thrown brand new drivers and each one of them goes faster than you, it’s not a good sign.” recommends

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Could Tsunoda’s analyse and feedback hamper his chances?

And it’s unlikely that outscoring his teammates could save Tsunoda.

According to former strategy engineer Bernie Collins, teams look at more than just that when deciding their driver line-up with feedback part of the criteria.

“There’ll be so many things,” she said. “They’ll be looking at qualifying performance. They’ll be looking at race performance as well, how he holds on to the tyres.

“Another thing for a team like this, it’s so important the driver feedback. Is the driver giving them good enough feedback to develop the car and keep the team going forward?

“And across all of the drivers you really need that, you need them to be working well with their engineers, but really pushing the team forward on every angle, putting the work in to get the best performance even if it’s not necessarily showing on track. You need a good team player.”

Feedback has in the past been an issue for Tsunoda with Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko critising the driver’s commentary.

Speaking to motorsport-total last season, Marko said Tsunoda had to stop his expletive-filled rants as the “engineer can’t do anything with feedback like ‘bloody f*cking car’. We have to know what exactly is the car doing. He has to analyse that and then say it factually.”

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