Sep.12 (GMM) A cloud has suddenly moved above the Formula 1 fortunes of Yuki Tsunoda.
Mere days ago, the 23-year-old Japanese looked set to be confirmed for a fourth consecutive season at Red Bull’s second team Alpha Tauri.
Team boss Franz Tost had said at Monza: “I definitely see Yuki in the team next year. That’s more or less already fixed.”
However, Tost is retiring at the end of the year – with Laurent Mekies arriving as his successor and Peter Bayer to become team CEO.
And Bayer is now quoted as saying: “In my opinion, we cannot continue to only train young drivers. We must also remain competitive ourselves.
“Nowadays, that means having an experienced and a young driver. The young driver can then learn from the experienced driver, and the experienced driver can help the team.
“Daniel (Ricciardo), for example, has helped us enormously with the setup of the car. So I am convinced that you need two drivers like that.”
Although injured at present, 33-year-old Australian is clearly Alpha Tauri’s “experienced driver” – as Dr Helmut Marko ruled out Sebastian Vettel for a shock return to the Red Bull family for 2024.
“We already have that experienced driver in Daniel Ricciardo,” he told Servus TV.
So after three seasons in F1, it is questionable whether Tsunoda fits the bill as the young driver – especially with Ricciardo’s rookie substitute Liam Lawson, 21, now impressing alongside Tsunoda.
Tsunoda admits his place is not necessarily secure.
“It would be nice of course if I could stay with the Red Bull family,” he said. “But to be honest, I don’t know more about this either. They’re going to decide this from above.
“All I can do is focus on what they expect from me and get the best results. I am now mainly trying to prove my worth as a driver, not only to Red Bull but also to the other teams. That’s my goal right now.”