Tsunoda’s situation undergoes a complete transformation

Yuki Tsunoda acknowledges that his circumstances have undergone a “complete change” at Red Bull-owned Alpha Tauri.

Prior to his teammate Nyck de Vries’ departure just before the Hungarian GP, the Japanese driver was thriving at the junior Red Bull outfit and was considered a potential candidate for a future Red Bull Racing seat.

However, with Daniel Ricciardo now taking over from de Vries, he seems to be in a prime position to succeed Sergio Perez at the top team after 2024. Dr Helmut Marko emphasized that “it is clear that this means he has to beat Tsunoda.”

After Ricciardo’s impressive performance in Hungary compared to Tsunoda’s in the sister car, the 23-year-old Japanese admitted he was “learning lots of things” from his new and renowned Australian teammate.

“I think Daniel gives more information and more areas that I have to improve,” Tsunoda said.

“The situation has completely changed for me,” he added. “Now my teammate is not only experienced but also very fast. I have felt that already.”

However, Ricciardo faced more challenges at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend, struggling not just due to inclement conditions.

“Even in the dry, it was very difficult for me,” he said. “I was always close to cars that were really fast on the straight, and I just couldn’t break away from the back of the field.

“Then it seemed like the others were able to extract more from their tyres. So I’m eager to get back behind the wheel and see where we can improve.

“But I don’t want to get too upset,” Ricciardo, 33, added. “The race was the only dry session of the entire weekend, so it could have just been the setup.

“I’m glad I was able to complete the whole race. Lots of feedback for the team,” he said after finishing 16th, while Tsunoda secured a rare point.

Tsunoda expressed his happiness with his performance at Spa compared to Hungary but admits that “the pressure is much higher now.”

“Because of that, I made a couple of mistakes. But in Spa, I was able to put it all together in the race. It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy and ready to fight Daniel in the second half of the season,” he said.