Until just a few weeks ago, Yuki Tsunoda was in the middle of the speculation surrounding AlphaTauri’s 2024 driver line-up. However, this doesn’t mark the end of uncertainty surrounding the Red Bull camp.
Tsunoda began the year with Nyck de Vries as his teammate – amidst the general expectation that De Vries could lead the team. Despite Tsunoda’s solid 2022 campaign against Pierre Gasly, Helmut Marko and Franz Tost were very confident in their new Dutch signing.
However, the Japanese driver quickly established himself as the lead driver at Faenza. A couple of rounds before the summer break, Daniel Ricciardo was signed to make his F1 comeback with AlphaTauri.
Ricciardo’s Zandvoort injury makes it difficult to gauge his level, although Red Bull is still very hopeful that the 8-time race winner can deliver. This was reflected in the decision to keep the Australian at AlphaTauri for 2024.
Returning to Yuki Tsunoda, the team’s confidence in Ricciardo and Liam Lawson’s impressiveness saw questions emerge regarding his future.
This wasn’t necessarily fair, given his strong performances in 2023. However, there were still doubts. In addition to this, there were reports emerging that Yuki Tsunoda could be a long-term interest for Aston Martin.
This is something that Helmut Marko himself has responded to. With these reports circulating, the #22 driver wants to re-iterate his commitments in F1:
“I’m with AlphaTauri, and I’ve been with Red Bull since I was 18 years old. So, I’m just focusing on performing for Red Bull – not for Aston Martin,” he told the media.
“Hopefully, they don’t misunderstand those things and really consider my future seriously.
“If I perform well as a driver, hopefully, they are concerned more. And obviously, if they don’t, I understand.
“But if I am able to show my performance, I would like to have a bit more of the attention.”
It is understandable that Tsunoda is still targeting a Red Bull promotion. There will almost certainly be movement within the Austrian team over the next eighteen months.
However, the Aston Martin rumours are not necessarily a negative for the 23-year-old. If the Silverstone-based team has legitimate interest, they could offer him an alternative to the Red Bull academy.
Next season will be his third year with AlphaTauri, and until now, there have been few indications that Red Bull is looking to promote him.
In any case, with Ricciardo set to return at COTA, Tsunoda will have another opportunity to prove himself against one of the most successful drivers currently in F1.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang