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Helmut Marko gives verdict on Tsunoda Red Bull chances

Helmut Marko says Yuki Tsunoda has to continue excelling to prove he deserves a seat with Red Bull.

Yuki Tsunoda has emerged as a stand-out performer to start the 2024 season. The 23-year-old is driving at a high level on both Saturdays and Sundays, claiming strong points in a VCARB 01 machine that has generally fallen short of expectations. With the Racing Bulls only producing the sixth-fastest car, points are hardly guaranteed for Tsunoda or teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Still, Tsunoda is comfortably the ‘best of the rest’ behind the top five teams in the Championship.

Much like last season, the Japanese driver is surpassing expectations. Few predicted he would lead RB to start the season, something confirmed by all the statistics indicate to start the season. However, there is still a long road ahead before he can earn a contract with Red Bull next season. The Austrian team is still reluctant to consider Tsunoda as a legitimate contender to partner Max Verstappen in 2025.

With several top drivers, including Carlos Sainz, available in the market, Red Bull is willing to look beyond their driver pool. Christian Horner confirmed this after the Australian GP, and Helmut Marko is echoing a similar sentiment.

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Red Bull wants more from Yuki Tsunoda

Typically, the 80-year-old is generally a vocal supporter of Tsunoda. Still, he emphasises that a larger sample size is needed before making any conclusion:

“He has really blossomed, but it’s April and we still have a lot of races left,” Sky Germanyquotes him as saying.

“Then we’ll look at the driver situation when the summer break comes. We want to watch it closely and make the right decision.

“That will certainly take until the summer.”

Once again, the reigning Champions insist on calm before committing to anything for 2025. This is a fairly logical approach since rushing a decision could be counter-productive. Still, it will be essential to observe whether Yuki Tsunoda ever seriously enters the considerations at Milton Keynes for next season. Providing he continues performing at his current level, this should be the bare minimum.

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Tsunoda attracting interest elsewhere

However, the team’s reservations about the 23-year-old are well-established at this stage. The question is whether these concerns have concretely changed or if Tsunoda has no real prospects of earning a promotion. Should this be the case, Tsunoda will be in a similar predicament to Pierre Gasly’s in 2022.

To be clear, the Frenchman is evidence that switching teams is not always the solution. In a sport where timing and fortune play such an essential role, the grass is not always greener elsewhere. Still, there are mounting reports that Tsunoda is attracting interest from teams outside the Red Bull stable. Helmut Marko himself has confirmed this to be the case.

As ever, any and every eventuality must be taken into account in the F1 market.


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