Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB attends the Drivers Press Conference during previews ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 06, 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Formula 1 News: Marko would pick Tsunoda over Ricciardo

(GMM) Yuki Tsunoda’s star is continuing to rise rapidly, as Red Bull contemplates its next driver promotions and demotions in Formula 1.

Experienced race winner Daniel Ricciardo, earlier the favorite to replace Sergio Perez at Red Bull next year, is pitted against Japanese 23-year-old Tsunoda at the junior F1 team RB this year.

And while Ricciardo is struggling, Tsunoda seems to be rising to the occasion – now clearly the dominant RB driver and an unlikely points scorer in Melbourne.

Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 leads Lewis Hamilton during the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 24, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images for Red Bull)

Dr Helmut Marko, Red Bull’s top F1 consultant and traditionally the decisive figure in driver decisions, admitted on Sunday that he is increasingly impressed with Tsunoda.

“He has the right speed and a very special character,” he told Servus TV.

“He doesn’t allow himself to be pigeonholed, and some people don’t like that very much. But what is decisive is the speed,” Marko added. “And I have also read that he is the big favorite among the young fans.”

Marko’s big criticism of Tsunoda in the past is that despite having “the speed”, he perhaps lacks the consistency and maturity expected of candidates for a top Red Bull Racing seat.

But in Melbourne, the 80-year-old Austrian remarked: “Tsunoda drives consistently good lap times. When (Nico) Hulkenberg attacked him, he reacted immediately and pulled away by three seconds.

“The Haas is a fast car but Yuki was flawless all weekend. It is confirmation that he is absolutely a mature Formula 1 driver. That gives us confidence for the future,” said Marko.

As for Ricciardo, Marko admits the 34-year-old Australian is “having a hard time” alongside Tsunoda so far in 2024.

“Things haven’t gone so well for him (Ricciardo) in the last three races,” he said. “He needs a car in which he feels safe and has confidence.

“I hope the team can give him that so he can at least be on a level playing field with Yuki.”

Meanwhile, Marko said he is relieved that the Christian Horner scandal, and rampant rumors about an internal power struggle, became “quieter” throughout the Melbourne race weekend.

“Calm has returned, but not for us in the race,” he said. “I hope things will be quieter in every way for the rest of the year.

“As long as we put together a car capable of winning, there is no reason for Max to leave us,” Marko added. “He wants to win a few more world championships.”

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