Red Bull uncertain Ricciardo has what’s required

Daniel Ricciardo’s return to the F1 grid in Hungary was hailed as the return the Australian driver deserved. Having a career tally of eight Grand Prix wins he is clearly a more experienced and successful team mate than Yuki Tsunoda has experienced in his three years within the sport.

With just a couple of hours to learn to drive the AlphTauri, Ricciardo qualified this year’s worst F1 car in an incredible thirtieth position at the Hungaroring while Tsunoda failed to escape from the first qualifying session.




Tsunoda almost in Q3

Daniel finished the race where he started while Tsunoda could only manage fifteenth at the chequered flag It seemed the return of the Aussie racer appeared to signal the death knell of the Japanese F1 career given he is out of contract at the end of this season.

Yet what a difference a week makes. Ricciardo was set to easily make it into quali two on Friday at the Belgium Grand Prix, but a small error on his final run in the first session at Radilon saw the Aussie penalised for a track limits violation and his time wiped from the board.

Tsunoda by way of contrast excelled in the fastest one lap sessions and missed final qualifying by just over 0.3 seconds behind Verstappen which was good enough to start the Grand Prix in eleventh place.

The Japanese driver at one point climbed as high as sixth but as the different tyre strategies panned out Yuki made the chequered flag in tenth, scoring his third point of the season.



Sky reporter writes off Tsunoda

Ricciardo had a miserable day finishing in P16 with just two drivers classified as finishing behind him. The Honey Badger now has four weeks to stew over his below par performance in Spa.

Clearly the veteran Red Bull driver will be pondering the capabilities of the car he has been tasked to drive util the end of the season.

All had gone well the previous week in Hungary and the writing appeared to be on the wall for the Honda sponsored Tsunoda as Ted Kravitz explained in his feature “the notebook” as the fans drifted away from the Budapest circuit.

“Poor Yuki. He’s battled gamely with this car all year and now is being shown which way to go by Daniel Ricciardo,” Kravitz said to the camera.

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Daniel clearly “the team leader”

“Seventeen seconds behind Daniel Ricciardo. I know he didn’t get the rub of the green with the first stop, but that is a bit ouchy for poor Yuki.”

Kravitz concluded, “so Ricciardo is clearly the team leader. He’s clearly the team leader now. I’m sorry Yuki, but he is. You can understand that, he’s a seven or eight-time Grand Prix winner.” 

As the rains come and went at the final F1 event before the summer break, Ricciardo was merely part of the sub text during the Grand Prix although his excellent drive during the Sprint saw him claim tenth place while Tsunoda trailed home last.

Yet it is in Grand Prix racing where the drivers are judged not during the frenetic excitement of some afternoon fun for the fans.



Ricciardo blamed traffic

It was as though Tsunoda and Ricciardo were driving completely different cars from their feedback during the post race media event. Yuki claimed his car was “flying” while Richard blamed the performance of his car.

“Honestly, it was tough in traffic. Maybe a race with more clear air could’ve been better, but in general I’m not convinced we had great pace today,” reflected Ricciardo.

“It felt like we never got the peak out of the tyres, and we couldn’t generate enough grip in the second sector. When we were in clear air later in the race, I felt we were more competitive, but in traffic, it was definitely hard.

The rain which has persisted throughout Friday and Saturday didn’t help Ricciardo familiarise himself with the car at the challenging circuit in Spa.

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Team boss ‘pain self inflicted’

“The reality is, these were my first dry laps in this car on this track, and I don’t know this car that well yet, so I still felt there was a little missing, but we’ll figure it out.

“Many are now looking forward to a well-deserved holiday, but the situation is slightly different for me as the break is a good chance for me to keep working behind the scenes. After a few days off, I’ll spend time in the gym and use my days training, to be able to further improve on my race fitness.”

The soon to be retiring AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost caused the odd raised eyebrow when he observed that Ricciardo’s woes were self inflicted.

“It’s a shame as he showed great performance yesterday, being close to scoring a point in the Sprint race,” he said.



At strategy didn’t help Ricciardo

“Starting further back today was really difficult because it’s really hard to overtake. We still miss some load on the car, but I’m convinced that when Daniel is more familiar with the car and tyres, he’ll do a really good job.”

AlphaTauri’s technical director was quick to defend their new recruit contrasting the track position Ricciardo held while Tsunoda was presented with an empty track as others pitted early.

“It was more difficult for Daniel, as he spent a good part of the race in traffic,” he said.

“We weren’t able to get him into free air to put together a strong sequence of laps, as he was able to do in Hungary to good effect. It was unfortunate, however, his strong performance in the Sprint race yesterday highlights we are making progress.

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Yuki “is the story”

Yet to finish 23 seconds behind Tsunoda after Sky’s pitlane reporter had declared him to be the new team leader will hurt Ricciardo’s pride a lot.

Kravitz concluded in his post race analysis, “What happened to Daniel Ricciardo today? Well, I’ll do that quickly because he’s not the story today.”

“Yuki Tsunoda is the story at AlphaTauri today. P10, one point, a brilliant result for Yuki Tsunoda. Finished just behind Lance Stroll, so he could have been P9.

“Yuki made it happen for him. I’m so happy for him because he made it happen after a few dodgy races.”



Tsunoda admits poor run of form

Tsunoda admitted he has been having a tough time in recent race weekends adding, “It’s been a long time since I scored points, and I’ve been struggling in the last few races, so I’m very happy now.”

“After the horrible day I had yesterday, I didn’t want to take that feeling into the summer break, so I’m happy I could extract and maximise the car’s performance.

“I feel I could give back to the team, apologise to them, and give them a little bit of positive energy going into the break.”

Daniel Ricciardo has been placed at AlphTauri for two main reasons. Firstly so Red Bull can bench mark the progress of Tsunoda who is now in his third year with the team.

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Red Bull Ricciardo uncertainty 

Secondly, Horner et al want to know whether their former driver and race winner is fit for the purpose of replacing Sergio Perez who has melted away under the intense competition of his team mate Verstappen.

Were the rest of the F1 field to close the gap to Red Bull next season, they need a driver alongside Max who will bring the car home on the podium at least.

Checo whilst having had a better weekend in Belgium, does not look like the man who will line up alongside Verstappen next season and decisions must be made quickly.

Whether Ricciardo can be that driver, Red Bull will be uncertain about for now.

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5 responses to “Red Bull uncertain Ricciardo has what’s required

  1. I will withhold judgment until after Netherlands GP, when he has had 4 weeks of sim and preparation plus 2 GP under his belt. After that, we will see

  2. Pingback: Red Bull uncertain Ricciardo has what’s required - Formula Bull·

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