Yuki Tsunoda surprised at Daniel Ricciardo's behaviour after his F1 return

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Daniel Ricciardo was drafted in to partner Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri (Image: Getty Images)
Daniel Ricciardo was drafted in to partner Yuki Tsunoda at AlphaTauri (Image: Getty Images)

Yuki Tsunoda admitted he has "a lot" to learn from Daniel Ricciardo, even after their short time as team-mates.

The Aussie was parachuted into that AlphaTauri seat after Nyck de Vries was axed. And the 34-year-old's presence presents a different challenge compared to what Tsunoda is used to from his team-mates.

After all, AlphaTauri's preference has always been to field young up-and-coming drivers, usually promoted from the Red Bull driver academy. That was how the Japanese racer won his seat, along with support from team partner Honda.

Ricciardo's presence means, for the first time in Formula 1, Tsunoda has a much more experienced team-mate to work with. And the difference is clear to him already, even after just two race weekends together.

"I already know he is fast but also how he's behaving in the team is like probably the opposite as me," he told reporters. "So, lots of things to learn, a lot from him.

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"It's also a bit of pressure for myself and probably that made me rush and a couple of mistakes in the last couple of races. But I was able to put it all together in the last race. It was not easy. But just happy and feeling ready for a fight with him in the second half of the season."

That race he was referring to was at Spa, where Tsunoda finished 10th. It marked his third points-paying finish of the season so far, and he's the only driver out of the three to race for AlphaTauri in 2023 who has scored.

Amid the fanfare surrounding Ricciardo's return to the F1 grid, the 23-year-old feels his achievements have gone a little under the radar. "It's challenging. But at the same time, I know that this current situation is completely new for me," he said.

"I'm learning a lot, especially getting challenged by an experienced driver. And not only is he an experienced driver, he’s a top driver and we know that he's fast."

Tsunoda began the season with five-straight finishes of 11th place or better. But that run ended with a mistake on a damp track in Monaco and, a week later at the Spanish Grand Prix, he feels a penalty he picked up which denied him ninth place disrupted his rhythm.

He added: "Consistency was key, and especially last year, so I was able to improve. In the first races, I was happy – I knew why. I was slightly [in] a bit of comfort zone and I had rhythm. After Barcelona, there was two races that I lost the points in an unfortunate way.

"Since then, I started to lose the rhythm. I recognise the amount I have to improve still. [Spa was] back to the same shape, or similar shape, I had in the beginning of season. So really happy and just keep improving."

Daniel Moxon

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