Sergio Perez‘s seat at Red Bull could be up for grabs following 2024, so both drivers know the first half of this season will be crucial if they want to move to the parent team.
Former Ferrari deputy team boss Laurent Mekies replaced Franz Tost at the start of this year and the team have become more aligned with Red Bull.
Total-Motorsport.com journalists Adam Dickinson, Jasmine Hughes, Joe Krishnan, Ed Spencer and Brandon Sutton take a look at what to expect from RB in 2024.
Joe Krishnan: Mighty task for Mekies
The enigma that is Red Bull’s sister team continues to baffle F1 fans, not least with their new name.
They have as many race wins as McLaren over the past three seasons thanks to Pierre Gasly’s incredible Monza triumph in 2020 and have been blessed with Ricciardo for the 2024 season. Yet I’m still not convinced they are going to contribute much beyond the odd P9 or P10.
For one, I don’t understand the Tsunoda hype. The Japanese driver is very likeable and his fiery character makes for good entertainment during races. But amassing a total of 17 points, having only collected three in the first 17 races of 2023, is some way off being enough to earn a future Red Bull seat.
In comparison, Ricciardo scored six points in five races and the previously untested Liam Lawson actually beat Tsunoda 2-1 in their own mini head-to-head last year.
It’s a mighty task for Mekies to arrive at a new team and build a car capable of delivering for Ricciardo. The Australian is as quick anyone in the right machinery, but I can only see the RB scrapping amongst the backmarkers again.
Constructors’ Championship prediction: 8th
Adam Dickinson: Both drivers are equally tantalising
I think Toro Rosso is genuinely one of the most intriguing teams in F1 this season. When was the last time we could say that? The silly nomenclature aside, the move to integrate more closely with Red Bull should bring performance benefits for one of the worst packages from 2023 and they were already improving at the end of the season.
AlphaTauri‘s best four weekends all came in the last five of the year. Both drivers are equally tantalising and must be looking at seats higher up the grid – I’d be very surprised if both Tsunoda and Ricciardo are at RB in 2025.
Tsunoda is an F1 veteran at this point and has shown more consistent speed every season and I expect that trend to continue, while Ricciardo remains a tad enigmatic but provided some really memorable moments in 2023.
If they do take the technical step forward then there’s no reason this line-up can’t be fighting around where Alpine was last season, I think it will be a big improvement in the points column even if they don’t fly up the order.
Constructors’ championship prediction: 7th
Ed Spencer: Return to front of midfield beckons
Once you stop laughing at the word salad of a team name, it’s easy to see why RB is a new chapter in Team Faenza‘s history as the team leaves behind its junior team roots.
With hand-me-downs from Red Bull‘s 2023 all-conquering RB19, RB is unlikely to repeat its miserable start to 2023 and could return to the high end of the midfield.
The driver pairing is robust, with Tsunoda back for another year and fresh from an excellent 2023, where he rang everything out of a sluggish car, helping the team finish eighth in the constructors.
Meanwhile, Ricciardo enters year two of his comeback mission after a part-time campaign in 2023, mired by lousy luck but had the occasional flash of brilliance.
Ferrari‘s former sporting director Mekies has big shoes to fill as team principal, replacing legendary Tost, who had been in charge since the team’s inspection in 2006.
However, the Frenchman will be familiar with Faenza as he spent time at Minardi and Toro Rosso before moving to Ferrari.
Constructors’ Championship prediction: 7th
Jasmine Hughes: RB should beat Haas and Sauber
Lining up on the grid with a new, convoluted name, Red Bull’s sister team returns this season with an unchanged driver line-up. It feels something of a novelty after the turbulence of 2023, which saw three different drivers partner Tsunoda.
If RB is able to go a season without having to swap out its drivers, the team may be able to achieve a stronger set of results compared to 2023. Within reason, though. RB should be able to finish the season comfortably clear of Haas and Sauber, but can it achieve greater success than that? Perhaps not.
Constructors’ Championship prediction: 8th
Brandon Sutton: Ricciardo and Tsunoda face biggest teammate battle
It’s a new era for RB in 2024 and based on rumours of the team heavily adapting the Red Bull RB19 chassis, they could find themselves catapulted to the front of the grid.
But, I do think it will take time for the new team to bed into being front runners and we also saw in 2020 that copying a car doesn’t mean you’re as fast as the team who designed it. Furthermore it would be their first experience as front runners, and the fine margins make all of the difference in this sport and the other teams have more experience in this area.
For Ricciardo and Tsunoda, it’s the biggest teammate battle of their lives as the winner could very much find themselves alongside Max Verstappen in 2025. Both of them have to convincingly beat the other to impress the Red Bull higher-ups and a failure to do so could see them out of a seat.
I’m placing them sixth but only because I expect Alpine, Williams and RB to be very close, just slightly adrift of the main five teams in an ever-closing grid.
Constructors’ Championship prediction: 6th