Yuki Tsunoda Claims Daniel Ricciardo Is “Not Fast at All” amid Fight for Sergio Perez’s Seat

Published 03/02/2024, 12:23 PM EST

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We’re past just the season opener and we are already seeing some spark flying around in the Visa Cash App RB garage. Apart from the literal ones, we saw some between Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo. The storyline of the two fighting for the second Red Bull seat got some undertones after the Bahrain GP. We all saw the Racing Bulls issue their first team orders, asking Tsunoda to concede position to Ricciardo. However, the Japanese driver did not appreciate that one bit and unknowingly revealed his stance on Sergio Perez‘s seat.

Perez’s seat has been in contention since his poor run of form during the 2023 season. Red Bull‘s sister team drivers are always in the running and Ricciardo’s mid-season inclusion in the team made it a realistic storyline in the F1 world. With that in mind, the team orders for Tsunoda, in favor of Ricciardo, did not sit well with the Japanese driver. Soon after the orders were communicated, Tsunoda furiously replied, “Are you kidding me, now?”


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The “now” in Tsunoda’s reply signified his hunt for Kevin Magnussen‘s P12 position in the race. With Ricciardo on soft compounds, the team asked the Japanese on old hards to let his teammate go. Soon after the swap, Tsunoda was heard sarcastically thanking his team. A few laps later when it became evident Ricciardo wouldn’t be able to steal the position from the Haas man, Tsunoda radioed in, “He needs to speed up man. He’s not fast at all,” expressing his frustration and indirectly revealing his opinion on who is more deserving of the second seat.

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Tsunoda has had a “strange” experience with the Australian in this fight. Now, it’s becoming more evident. However, Tsunoda has perhaps already made his mark in the cold war for Perez’s seat. At least one expert thinks so.

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Ever since Ricciardo was given the AlphaTauri lifeline, the Japanese driver’s Red Bull dreams took a hit. The focus shifted on Ricciardo and he instantly became the favorite for the dream seat. Tsunoda did not appreciate that perhaps took it a little personally he was being discounted even before the two raced each other.


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This is perhaps why the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP was an important race in this cold war between the two. The Japanese driver showcased his racing prowess and raced incredibly, which impressed at least Peter Windsor.


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He said, “Yuki Tsunoda, excellent job for AlphaTauri. He really showed up Daniel Ricciardo around Abu Dhabi. Why? I mean that’s the question. This should be a good circuit for Daniel Ricciardo. And the car is obviously good.  But Yuki Tsunoda, all over him, so all credit to him. He kept up that pace all throughout qualifying as well. Daniel didn’t make it out of Q2 when he was 0.2 slower than Tsunoda.”


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With such high stakes, Tsunoda would not appreciate the events of the season opener. We are sure there will be some conversations in the debrief and perhaps from the next race on we will see the two racing bulls lock horns.


Written by:

Mahim Suhalka


One take at a time

Mahim is a senior Formula 1 writer at EssentiallySports. With a Diploma in Sports Management, he ventured into sports journalism for his sheer passion for F1. Mahim has written over 2000 articles during his tenure at ES, and his expertise is in perspective pieces and core sports coverage.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare