VCARB likely to retain Tsunoda and Ricciardo, says team CEO

Jaden Diaz
25 May, 2024

As the F1 driver market continues to heat up, VCARB CEO Peter Bayer is keen to offer Yuki Tsunoda and Daniel Ricciardo new contracts. The Faenza-based team is enjoying its best start to a season since 2021, largely thanks to Tsunoda’s efforts. As it stands, Red Bull’s second team seems happy with its driver combination of youth and experience.

Not too long ago, the consensus in F1 circles was that Liam Lawson would earn a full-time seat. His impressive performances last season made him – in the eyes of many – destined to enjoy a lengthy career on the grid.

To some degree, last year’s announcement that VCARB would retain Tsunoda and Ricciardo was a blow to this consensus. Still, with Perez’s contract expiring, it was anticipated that a seat at Red Bull would open up for Lawson.

However, this does not seem to be the case. Tsunoda is making himself an indispensable asset to the team currently sixth in the standings. The Japanese driver has been the unofficial ‘best of the rest’ this year, securing regular points and Q3 appearances.

When asked about the 24-year-old’s progress, VCARB CEO Peter Bayer said the following:

“I definitely believe he has made a big step forward. It’s physical preparation, but it’s also his mental readiness to perform and deliver. One example I mentioned the other day.

“I think he simply understood that every time he would be swearing on the radio, that would cost him a tenth. So he’s got himself under control.

He’s extremely professional in the work that he’s putting into the feedback with the engineers. And yes, he definitely made a big step up.”

MONTE-CARLO, MONACO – MAY 24: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive in the garage during practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 24, 2024 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. (Photo by Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202405240648 // Usage for editorial use only //

Bayer was then directly asked if he wanted to keep Tsunoda for 2025. His response was equally direct: “Yes.”

Not only Yuki Tsunoda but also Daniel Ricciardo is expected to continue with the Italian outfit. The 8-time race winner still enjoys plenty of goodwill from Red Bull and VCARB. Despite the deficit to his teammate, VCARB is in no rush to replace him.

Bayer spoke in glowing terms of the team’s current driver situation:

“I think we’re very happy with both of our drivers. And honestly, we’re not wasting time with discussing ifs and whens. We have a very strong line-up. We have a great reserve driver. We have great talent coming through F2, F3.”

Ultimately, Red Bull is still in control of the line-up at Faenza. Therefore, at any moment in the next few weeks, there could be an unexpected change of heart.

The reigning Champions are certainly well-known for making shock driver swaps. With that said, ironically, VCARB could be one of the more stable teams in this year’s market. For Lawson, this could spell bad news for his F1 prospects.

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