Should Red Bull opt to replace Sergio Perez next season they should give the job to Yuki Tsunoda, not Daniel Ricciardo, says the Japanese driver’s former team boss Trevor Carlin.
Although Perez is under contract with Red Bull for the 2024 season, his declining results in conjunction with his desire to have equal status to Max Verstappen has F1’s rumour mill suggesting his days could be numbered.
Red Bull, though, needn’t worry about finding a replacement as Carlin believes they already have the perfect candidate at their AlphaTauri squad in Tsunoda.
Yuki Tsunoda the man for Red Bull, says former boss
The Japanese driver spent 2020 racing for Carlin in Formula 2, where he claimed three race wins on his way to third in the championship.
“We absolutely adore Yuki,” the team boss told Metro, “we had a year racing with him and it was the most fun time ever.
“He’s such a character, he’s so committed and he got everything out of the car. He made a few stupid mistakes in his rookie year in F2 which in hindsight actually cost him the championship to [Mick] Schumacher.
“We thought he’d be with us on a two-year deal. The jump from one year in F2 to F1 is tough. He was trying to prove himself and he had a lot of incidents in year one and slightly less incidents in year two.
“Could you imagine if we had to do this job in Tokyo tomorrow, not knowing the language? We’d really struggle. So flip that on its head, Yuki has come to a different culture, a different place, different language, different food, the whole shebang.
“It is very difficult and that’s why many Japanese drivers don’t make it. They may be faster but they struggle to make the transition to Europe because it is a massive culture shock. So fair play to him he’s doing well. Its a big challenge, he had a steep learning curve.”
However, it’s one Carlin believes he has overcome with the 60-year-old blaming AlphaTauri for Tsunoda’s recent lack of results.
“Unfortunately,” he continued, “his improvement in pace has coincided with the deterioration of the speed of AlphaTauri so he’s got better as the car’s got worse. An awful lot of people want that Red Bull seat but who would want to be Max Verstappen’s team-mate?
“Yuki is the kind of guy that would relish the opportunity and he’d be fully committed. God knows what would happen but he’d be entertaining, go flat out and he might surprise a few people. I’d love to see Yuki do it.”
As for Ricciardo, Carlin questioned whether the Honey Badger, who after losing his McLaren seat opted to step away this year in a bid to rediscover his mojo, still has the commitment it takes to compete in Formula 1 at the highest level.
But if he feels he is, he has to join a team capable of winning races.
“I don’t think he should come back as a race driver,” he said. “Going to 24 races a season is a big commitment and there’s no point going just to do them. He’s a great ambassador for Red Bull right now.
“I haven’t spoken to him about it so if he reads this he’ll probably phone me up to have a shout at me! I’m a believer of people being happy in their lives and from the outside at least Daniel looks really happy at the moment.
“He looked very unhappy when he was running at the back in F1 and with the best will in the world driving an AlphaTauri is going to be a battle to be P9 or P10, so why would you put yourself through that?
“I don’t think he should do it, but if it gives him the chance to get back into Red Bull it’s a different conversation. I think he’d be ready for that and up for the challenge but AlphaTauri would be wrong for him in my personal opinion.”