Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Tsunoda ‘not at Red Bull level yet but making great progress’ – Horner

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In the round-up: Yuki Tsunoda isn’t ready to step up to Red Bull yet, says team principal Christian Horner.

In brief

Tsunoda not ready for Red Bull yet – Horner

Tsunoda, who is in his third year year at Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri, scored points for the second weekend running in Baku. However Horner says he has not yet demonstrated he’s ready to step up to the top team.

“I don’t think he’s at our level, yet, but he’s making great progress,” said Horner. “We’re seeing he’s maturing as a driver. He certainly has the speed and I think as he gains experience, I’m sure he’s going to become more rounded. He’s driven some strong races so far this year.”

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are contracted to drive for Red Bull again in 2024. Horner said Red Bull are “not short of options” for their driver line-up. “We have a commitment with both of our drivers, with both of them to the end of 2024. But the best thing he can do is perform at a very high level in the AlphaTauri.”

Tsunoda is on course to become AlphaTauri’s third-longest-serving driver during this year. He could become the first driver to start more than 100 grands prix for the team should he retain his seat through to 2025.

Permane sees rest as key in Alpine’s bounceback from Baku

Alpine endured a tough event in Baku last weekend, with a fire on Pierre Gasly’s car in practice on Friday and then pit lane starts for Esteban Ocon on Saturday and Sunday.

The extra work that had to be put in to make sure both drivers could actually race was tough on the team, and sporting director Alan Permane said the minimal rest time available before this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix will be crucial.

“I think everyone takes [a difficult weekend] a little bit differently,” he explained after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“I’m sure the mechanics, they’ve worked so hard this weekend, they’ve had a hell of a job with Pierre’s engine change and that has knock-on effects that you guys don’t see. We changed the engine, and they arrive here on a Wednesday, they build the cars, but we also build our spares up. Spare gearbox, spare engine and stuff like that. When you use all those on Friday, they’ve then got to stay late Friday night.

“There’s no curfew on a Friday night on a sprint weekend, because the cars are in parc ferme. But they were here until 10, 11 o’clock, replenishing that spare that they just used, making sure we’ve got an engine and a gearbox ready to go if we do the next one.

“So it’s a real double-whammy for them. They had a really gruelling Friday. The next thing they’ve got is a gruelling 14-hour flight to Miami. And some of them will be straight into work Tuesday morning. So I think how you recover from it, it’s not easy, especially going straight into another race.

“Some people will have a day off on Tuesday, and will no doubt enjoy some sunshine and relax. But we’ll do what we can to get those people who have worked long hours here and will have to work Tuesday, to get them away on Wednesday and Thursday so that at least everyone gets a bit of downtime and time to have a meal and a pint out or something like that. Whatever people use for their recuperation.”

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Comment of the day

F1 revised its sprint event format days before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton said this resulted in less track running throughout the weekend, and some felt what action there was didn’t amount to much:

After having watched the qualifying sessions and the sprint race, I already had enough F1 for the weekend. After the Safety Car in the main race and I had to endure another 30 laps.

This feeling was mostly caused by the race being this dull, but I felt saturated with F1 with more than half of the race remaining. The main race didn’t feel like the main event of the weekend.

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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12 comments on “Tsunoda ‘not at Red Bull level yet but making great progress’ – Horner”

  1. He could be for 2025. Time will tell.

    The Jalopnik article is good & concerning one specific aspect, attending a GP in Europe might be cheaper than the Miami (or LV) GP, but a longer flight might still mean a higher overall cost.
    Nevertheless, both Miami & LV GPs aren’t necessarily the most fan-friendly events for attending, so if I were to attend a North American GP, Canadian GP would be the most likely choice, followed by COTA (Mexico City GP off because of similar safety issues to Sao Paulo).
    Japanese GP would be my most preferred flyaway event, though.

    1. I’ve been to a practice day at the Mexican grand prix and would recommend it. I was staying in a hotel in the middle of the city in walking distance of all the main tourist sites, could get the metro straight to the circuit, and walk right from the metro station pretty much to the stand I had tickets for. Felt super safe inside the circuit too. I’ve not been to the Sao Paulo GP, but I have been to the city, and generally felt safer in Mexico.

    2. I loved this quote from the Jalopnik article

      I was like, this isn’t racing. This isn’t Formula 1. It’s a high-end selfie museum in a parking lot.”

      And I think that was one of the kinder replies. (Interesting it seems replies are verified and so is stated attendance at the event.)

      Longevity seems assured.

  2. I 100% agree with the comment of the day. It was too much F1, it took kinda spoiled the Sunday race. Every poll has shown sprint weekends aren’t popular with tv/streaming fans so this has to be only about money.

    If they want to race on Saturdays then give all drivers equal cars, I’ll be interested to watch that.

  3. I think neither Tsunoda nor De Vries have what it take to become a (successful) Red Bull driver. Red Bull must look for other talents.

    1. Agree.

      Maybe that’s why they have Ricciardo also in the camp. He might still be the 3rd best driver for the Red Bull seat.

      1. They certainly aren’t currently in a tight spot for choice @sumedh, @matthijs. If Perez keeps up the level he is currently driving there is no good reason to replace him early anyway. And they have Daniel to fill in if he does drop the pace. That means they can give Tsunoda some time to show his merits, see whether De Vries recovers himself or replace either or both for next season to evaluate others in their stable.

        1. In fact, if tsunoda gets a decent midfield offer, he should jump ship, I doubt perez and verstappen are going anywhere anytime soon.

          1. Yes, I agree there @esploratore1. Especially if Honda are looking to join the grid again, surely someone will be interested in having a japanese driver.

      2. Maybe thats why Max is not getting too upset. He’d rather keep Perez as a team mate instead of Riciardo…. If he “demands” to be let by, for sure Perez will throw his toys out off the pram. If DR gets back in the car, there’s no way he’s moving over at this stage in his “career”. Drip feed Perez a few wins here & there, let him be called the “King of Baku”….. Almost like happy wife = happy life, but nothing rhymes with beaten team mate who is asked to move over in the same car…….

  4. Sergey Martyn
    3rd May 2023, 11:14

    Very unscientific fiction…

  5. I was excited to see what Tsunoda could do when he entered F1, but I have been underwhelmed. Perhaps Indycar would suit him better.

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