Yuki Tsunoda, RB, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

Tsunoda accepts he got “a bit heated” in team orders dispute with Ricciardo

Formula 1

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Yuki Tsunoda says he understands why RB told him to move aside for his team mate during last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix despite his complaints at the time.

He was trying to pass Kevin Magnussen for 12th place towards the end of the race when the team told him to let their other car past. Tsunoda was running on hard tyres at the time but Daniel Ricciardo in the other RB was on softs.

Although he complained about the decision, Tsunoda complied. Ricciardo spent four laps trying to pass the Haas, without success.

Speaking in today’s FIA press conference Tsunoda said he understood the team’s call. “I think we were on a different strategy as Daniel.

“He had a new tyre – a soft tyre – and I was fighting with Kevin. Obviously he had slightly more free air and he had more pace. I think probably the team thought Daniel had more pace and so more chance to overtake Kevin, so they asked me to swap the positions.

“I understand what they’re saying and I think that’s it. Obviously it wasn’t an easy race in the end.”

Tsunoda almost caused a collision with his team mate on the cool-down lap after taking the chequered flag. He dived aggressively down the inside of Ricciardo at turn eight, locking up his brakes, then drove close to the other RB as they exited the corner. Ricciardo later described Tsunoda’s actions as “immaturity from him”.

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“In the moment I was a bit heated,” Tsunoda admitted. “I was getting quite heated moments in my brain. But I still let him through, probably a lap later or half a lap later. So in the end, the team thought they had more chance and I respect that.

“We talked about it after the race with our team. We’re still unified and we are on the same page now. We understand each other, so I think that’s it really.”

Despite the contentious end to the race, in which RB failed to score, Tsunoda says he took positives from the opening race weekend of the season.

“The pace was good, I’m pretty happy with the pace,” he said. “I think I was fighting for the top ten and we saw in qualifying as well we ended up quite close to P10 as well. So the car’s good.

“I enjoyed the first half. Obviously a lot of things to take from there as a positive, but obviously for the future as well.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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15 comments on “Tsunoda accepts he got “a bit heated” in team orders dispute with Ricciardo”

  1. When it comes time to put Liam in during the season, I think Tsunoda can expect a call from Helmut following his “bit heated” nonsense. Definitely won’t have gone unnoticed.

    1. His hot headedness and immaturity would certainly have been noted. But so would have the fact that he was the faster driver in Bahrain as Marko said – “The theatre could have been avoided. I spoke to Yuki afterwards. With the right strategy, he could have finished 10th.”

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        6th March 2024, 20:26

        Hot headedness is acceptable as long as it’s curbed – he delayed but eventually gave up the spot and made his feelings known as he should have. Marko probably respects him more for that and also admitted that he should have taken a point there.

        1. Yellow Baron
          7th March 2024, 12:16

          A little hot headedness or a little docile headedness, I can tell which a team.boss would prefer

  2. This is what happens when Toyota signs up all the top level Japanese drivers for their WEC efforts; Honda only has Tsunoda to force on their F1 partners because they, for whatever reason, absolutely must have a Japanese driver.

    Japan always has such great fans, with lots of support and love for everyone on the grid. This weird idea that they need a Japanese driver to be interested in F1 is so outdated.

    1. Nationality has zero relevance for an organization like Red Bull, though, & Honda also has Ayumu Iwasa who could get a full-time drive in the B-team if he performs well in SF.

      1. Iwasa only has an FIA superlicense starting this year, so it’s not like they were spoiled for choice.

        Given the turn-over rate at Red Bull, that Tsunoda keeps getting year after year of more tries with the same lackluster performance and same inability to keep his cool makes it pretty obvious he’s there so long as there’s a Honda in the back of those four cars.

        1. I was hoping this would be some sort of apology from Yuki. People wanted Lance punished for pushing someone in the garage last year. What about deliberate dangerous driving on the circuit, threatening another driver? He should get a race ban for that. If not, Honda should withdraw Yuki and replace him with another Japanese driver in any case.

  3. He has been called out on this since he started driving in F1.
    Very hard to listen to.

  4. A “bit” of an understatement

  5. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    6th March 2024, 20:25

    I loved it – he had every right to complain and needed to as a driver. No need to apologize. You have to be willing to fight for everything in F1.

    Ditto for Daniel, he has to earn his spot in F1.

    1. He has the right to complain but not put others at risk with dangerous maneuvers. The incident after they crossed the finish line was really stupid and risky, especially since drivers are not so on the edge after crossing the line. An accident between teammates, after the race ended, could have been one of the most idiotic incidents in F1.

  6. Since people somehow believe the Masi decision was ok, this is a prime example of why it was not. Here are 2 drivers fighting for 12th, 13th, and 14th places and getting heated doing it. The Masi decision did not take into consideration any places other than 1st and 2nd. And I also blame the other teams for not protesting the fact that their drivers were disadvantaged by Masi’s decision.

    As for TSU and RIC and all the other drivers, earn your position and stop whining on the radio about how you’re so much faster and being held up from challenging VER for the win.

  7. Yuki’s fine. It’s that intense competitiveness that has taken him to the ‘top’ levels of international (European) motorsport.
    He should stop listening to people complaining that he doesn’t speak properly (for them) and just be himself. Stop wasting brain power on restraining natural reaction and instinct.

    The team knows who he is and what he’s like when the helmet is on and the competition is active. Nobody else needs to know or care. Out of the car, he’s as pleasant and professional as anyone could ask for.

    In this particular case, the team were the ones who set him off anyway – he was perfectly within his rights to be upset with them. The driver’s career and life suffers more from poor race decisions and results than theirs ever will.

  8. What’s new

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