Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda, despite not being promoted by Red Bull for the upcoming season, has retained his place on the F1 grid thanks to significant support from one of his major sponsors. As the leading Asian driver in Formula One this season, Tsunoda currently holds 10th place in the standings with 19 points.

Since his debut in 2021, Tsunoda has displayed speed but struggled with consistency. His continued presence the sport proves the saying that it’s easier to temper a quick driver than to speed up a slow one.

By the Asian Motorsport Team

A standout season in 2023

Tsunoda started last year with an uncompetitive car, but still emerged as one of the standout performers on the grid. He scored the majority of his team’s 25 points in the Constructors’ Championship, even outperforming experienced race winner Daniel Ricciardo when he joined the team mid-season. Red Bull team principal Laurent Mekies praised Tsunoda’s remarkable progress, calling it “simply phenomenal” during the announcement of his contract renewal at the Canadian Grand Prix.

Red Bull’s consideration of alternatives

Despite Tsunoda’s improved performance, Red Bull considered replacing him following the impressive debut of Liam Lawson midway through the 2023 season. Tsunoda’s position was ultimately secured by a timely intervention from Honda, a key sponsor.

Honda’s contribution

Honda’s increased financial backing was pivotal in securing Tsunoda’s seat for 2024. Red Bull had been inclined to keep Ricciardo for a full season, and Lawson’s strong performance as a stand-in had also caught the eye of Helmut Marko, who was eager to give Lawson a full-time seat. However, Honda’s financial contribution ensured Tsunoda retained his place.

The upcoming Grand Prix

The next Grand Prix takes place this weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. In the 2023 event, Tsunoda finished 12th. This year, Visa Cash App RB are reported to be bringing a significant upgrade to the event, which could positively impact Tsunoda’s performance.

Future Prospects and Red Bull’s Strategy

Red Bull’s partnership with Honda provided an additional incentive to keep Tsunoda. However, when Honda’s involvement diminishes after 2025, Tsunoda will need to justify his seat based purely on performance. Currently, he is considered the second-best Red Bull driver after Max Verstappen, and interest from other teams solidifies his position.

Potential future moves

Looking ahead, there is the potential for Honda once again influence the future of Tsunoda, with Honda forming an engine partnership with Aston Martin from 2026. This would mark Aston Martin’s first departure from Mercedes engines, with Honda committed to developing a power unit for the new 2026 regulations.

Nonetheless, Red Bull still holds sway over Tsunoda’s future placement, and with Liam Lawson waiting for an opportunity, they may consider offers for Tsunoda. Any future move might also hinge on Lance Stroll’s decision to continue in F1, given the possible uncertainties about the Canadian remaining in the sport.

Yuki Tsunoda’s journey in Formula 1 reflects a combination of talent, sponsorship influence, and strategic team decisions. His future will depend on continued performance and the evolving dynamics within his current and potential teams.

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