Marko: Increasingly mature Tsunoda drove “perfectly” in Australia

Jaden Diaz

Senior Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko has praised Yuki Tsunoda for delivering a strong haul of points in Australia’s Albert Park circuit. The 80-year-old set the RB driver a target of converting his impressive qualifying into points. Twenty-four hours later, this challenge was completed.

Despite the slim pickings available to Formula 1’s bottom five teams, Tsunoda has consistently put himself in contention this year.

Bahrain and Jeddah were disappointing races, but not because the Japanese driver lacked pace. The opposite was true, with frustrations instead stemming from small windows of opportunity being allowed to pass by.

It was different today in Australia, though, which was also the circuit where the 23-year-old claimed his first points in 2023.

A P8 grid slot was converted into 8th place at the chequered flag before a post-race penalty for Fernando Alonso promoted Tsunoda into 7th. At a race where retirements from Russell, Hamilton and Verstappen provided opportunity, the #22 car was there to capitalise.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 23: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01 on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Australia at Albert Park Circuit on March 23, 2024 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202403230168 // Usage for editorial use only //


His position in the standings is a deserved reflection of his increasingly consistent showings of pace.

These efforts are not going unnoticed, as evidenced by Helmut Marko’s comments to Sky Germany post-race:

“Yuki ran perfectly from the first lap on Friday and set very consistent and good times in today’s race.

“When Nico [Hulkenberg] attacked [in the later stages of the race], he immediately countered.”

“I think we have confirmed that Yuki is an absolutely mature driver.”

Generally speaking, the F1 paddock expected big things from the Racing Bulls this season.

After all, their progress in the second half of 2023 evidenced the potential for improvement as they tightened collaboration with Red Bull.

In some ways, the VCARB 01 is failing to meet these expectations. Even with today’s result, the Faenza-based team seems destined to finish 6th place in the Championship at best.

However, the Australian GP produced a strong result for Laurent Mekies’ personnel. Additionally, it proves that RB will be competitive enough to fight for points and allow for clearer assessments of Tsunoda and Ricciardo’s abilities.

Speaking of Ricciardo, today’s points cement the gulf between the two RB drivers to start 2024. As these two drivers fight for their F1 careers, this head-to-head will be intriguing to follow.

For now, though, Tsunoda can be more than pleased with his buffer versus his more experienced teammate.

Marko’s comments about his maturity are especially significant when considering the narrative often surrounding the youngster. As he continues his fourth Formula 1 season, the 23-year-old has a chance to continue changing perceptions.