Tsunoda ‘not at Red Bull level yet but making great progress’

In the round-up: Yuki Tsunoda isn’t ready to step up to Red Bull yet, says team principal Christian Horner.

In brief

Tsunoda not ready for Red Bull yet – Horner

Tsunoda, who is in his third year year at Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri, scored points for the second weekend running in Baku. However Horner says he has not yet demonstrated he’s ready to step up to the top team.

“I don’t think he’s at our level, yet, but he’s making great progress,” said Horner. “We’re seeing he’s maturing as a driver. He certainly has the speed and I think as he gains experience, I’m sure he’s going to become more rounded. He’s driven some strong races so far this year.”

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez are contracted to drive for Red Bull again in 2024. Horner said Red Bull are “not short of options” for their driver line-up. “We have a commitment with both of our drivers, with both of them to the end of 2024. But the best thing he can do is perform at a very high level in the AlphaTauri.”

Tsunoda is on course to become AlphaTauri’s third-longest-serving driver during this year. He could become the first driver to start more than 100 grands prix for the team should he retain his seat through to 2025.

Permane sees rest as key in Alpine’s bounceback from Baku

Alpine endured a tough event in Baku last weekend, with a fire on Pierre Gasly’s car in practice on Friday and then pit lane starts for Esteban Ocon on Saturday and Sunday.

The extra work that had to be put in to make sure both drivers could actually race was tough on the team, and sporting director Alan Permane said the minimal rest time available before this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix will be crucial.

“I think everyone takes [a difficult weekend] a little bit differently,” he explained after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

“I’m sure the mechanics, they’ve worked so hard this weekend, they’ve had a hell of a job with Pierre’s engine change and that has knock-on effects that you guys don’t see. We changed the engine, and they arrive here on a Wednesday, they build the cars, but we also build our spares up. Spare gearbox, spare engine and stuff like that. When you use all those on Friday, they’ve then got to stay late Friday night.

“There’s no curfew on a Friday night on a sprint weekend, because the cars are in parc ferme. But they were here until 10, 11 o’clock, replenishing that spare that they just used, making sure we’ve got an engine and a gearbox ready to go if we do the next one.

“So it’s a real double-whammy for them. They had a really gruelling Friday. The next thing they’ve got is a gruelling 14-hour flight to Miami. And some of them will be straight into work Tuesday morning. So I think how you recover from it, it’s not easy, especially going straight into another race.

“Some people will have a day off on Tuesday, and will no doubt enjoy some sunshine and relax. But we’ll do what we can to get those people who have worked long hours here and will have to work Tuesday, to get them away on Wednesday and Thursday so that at least everyone gets a bit of downtime and time to have a meal and a pint out or something like that. Whatever people use for their recuperation.”

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