Yuki Tsunoda admits feeling threatened by Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda are currently drawing 1-1 in their intra-team battle both in qualifying and races.

Yuki Tsunoda has openly admitted that his “situation” at AlphaTauri has “completely changed” since Daniel Ricciardo replaced Nyck de Vries.

Since returning to Formula 1, Ricciardo has looked quick, to the extent where he out-qualified and finished ahead of Tsunoda at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Ricciardo also out-qualified Tsunoda in last weekend’s sprint shootout at the Belgian Grand Prix, before beating him in the sprint race itself.

Tsunoda did qualify ahead and finish ahead of Ricciardo in the actual race, but nevertheless, the Japanese driver recognises that Ricciardo is a much bigger test than De Vries was.

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“I think Daniel gives more information and more places 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.”

Ricciardo finished several places below Tsunoda at Spa-Francorchamps, with him having claimed a point whilst the fan favourite languished in 16th.

In the 34-year-old’s defence, it was a very weird Belgian GP weather wise, with minimal dry running.

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As Ricciardo is so new to the AT04 this worked against him, with him admitting that perhaps his dry setup wasn’t correct.

“Even in the dry it was very difficult for me,” Ricciardo 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 squeeze more out of their tyres. So I’m eager to get back behind the wheel and see where we can get better.

“But I don’t want to get too upset. 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 do the whole race. Lots of feedback for the team,” he said after finishing 16th – while Tsunoda managed to score a rare point.”

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Ricciardo is certainly piling the pressure on Tsunoda, who revealed that he made a “couple of mistakes” because he’s having to push more.

He recognises that the “pressure is much higher now”, especially as both Tsunoda and Ricciardo want a move to Red Bull.

“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,” Tsunoda said.