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Yuki Tsunoda

How Ricciardo saved Tsunoda's F1 career

Yuki Tsunoda is the only RB driver to have been offered a seat with the team for 2025

Tsunoda Ricciardo Miami
Article
To news overview © XPBimages

Yuki Tsunoda is without a doubt one of the most improved drivers in F1 and looking destined for several more years in the championship, but that did not appear to be the case 18 months ago.

The Japanese driver has already been offered a seat with RB for the 2025 season, leaving Daniel Ricciardo and Liam Lawson to duel for the second spot

Just last year, it at one point was suggested that Tsunoda could be dropped for 2024 to allow Ricciardo and Lawson to team up, only for the Red Bull junior team to retain its Japanese star. 

It is a decision that is resulting in rewards for RB, as Tsunoda is enjoying his best season to-date. Tsunoda has been a regular figure in Q3 and has scored 19 points, 10 more than Ricciardo. 

From day one, it was never doubted that Tsunoda had pace. As soon as he made his debut back in 2021, the 24-year-old demonstrated blistering pace. However, his pace did not result in consistent point finishes. 

He had a tendency in his opening two seasons to make driver errors, whilst his temper was also a problem. Tsunoda often fired heated words over the radio, demonstrating a lack of maturity. 

Nevertheless, ex-RB boss Franz Tost kept Tsunoda in the team in 2023, where he was partnered by Nyck de Vries. Red Bull advisor Dr. Helmut Marko expected de Vries to be the team leader, a challenge Tsunoda rose to. 

The RB driver became the team leader himself, and suddenly showed incredible consistency. Then came the significant moment, Ricciardo replacing de Vries.

Ricciardo influence

Tsunoda had the perfect chance to demonstrate his talent alongside a driver Red Bull continue to view highly, and also learn from one of the most experienced drivers on the grid. 

The second half of 2023 did not see much of a duel between the two drivers, mostly because of Ricciardo missing several races due to an injury after crashing in Zandvoort. Ultimately, Tsunoda's performances saw him retained for 2024, where he has caught the eye of many. 

Baring a heated exchange with the team and Ricciardo in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, Tsunoda has been dominant against Ricciardo. Tsunoda has been fast, consistent, reliable and, crucially, mature. 

His radio outbursts have become a thing of the past, with a mature Tsunoda clearly being a very quick driver, to the extent that fans have called for Red Bull to give him a shot, something which looks very unlikely to ever happen. 

Being alongside Ricciardo has calmed Tsunoda, who recently revealed himself that the Australian has been very impactful on his "emotional control". This is all that was holding Tsunoda back and now that he has it under control, his value is increasing rapidly. 

Undoubtedly, if Tsunoda had not gotten on top of his emotions and his radio outbursts, then he would likely be out of F1, given that, clearly, his outbursts were limiting his speed. 

RB has often explained how important Ricciardo is to the team given his vast experience, even if his performances are not as great as expected. Tsunoda for one, has benefitted significantly from the eight-time race winner. 

(More text below the image...)

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages

Three-step process

To battle his radio outbursts, Tsunoda devised a three-step plan, which he recently outlined. Even the driver recognises the benefits his reduced radio outbursts has had on his driving.

"For sure, like first two races, I have to really think about it before I press radio and everything," Tsunoda told select media including RacingNews365

"But now, it's starting to become more natural, just being in silence. So I think it's, for sure, the right way, the right path. Currently, there's kind of three phases for me.

"It's like this, first step, I kind of passed which is like, I have to think before I press radio. And now, it's times when I just got to shut up. But you can't just shut up all the time, a whole session, because you still need feedback. 

So, the next phase is to be calm naturally, and still provide good feedback with the frustration moments but I'm happy to do all this right now. 

"And now, I don't really have to think about much, but sometimes, maybe a little bit like traffic, for example. Kind of force myself to calm down, but I'm happy with the progress."

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Verstappen's brilliant win, as Norris is continuing to develop as a driver. Perez's struggles and Lewis Hamilton's return to the podium are also discussed!

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