Tsunoda aiming for Red Bull drive: I’m close to Max Verstappen

Max Verstappen won his third F1 drivers' championship at the 2023 Qatar GP

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AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda believes there’s not a big difference between himself and Max Verstappen, and said he would love a shot as the Dutchman’s Red Bull teammate.

Verstappen claimed his third title over the 2023 Qatar Grand Prix weekend, while Tsunoda has only managed three points finishes all year, but emphasised the difference a drivers’ machinery can make.

“I would like to drive in the same car,” Tsunoda told the press. “Because I don’t know, obviously it’s hard, he’s good. But same time, we never drive together and obviously the car is different. So it’s hard to say about the driving difference.

“As driving and as a performance in dry conditions or in qualifying, I wouldn’t say for now that we have big difference. Of course, the consistency is definitely better.”

Verstappen has won 13 of the 16 races in 2023, with his Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez picking up two Grand Prix victories but still failing to pull convincingly clear of the chasing pack in the battle for second in the drivers’ championship.

The rumours around Red Bull are that Perez certainly won’t be there forever, and Tsunoda should be near the front of the queue to replace him when the time does come.

Thrust into Formula 1 incredibly early – after just four full seasons of car racing – he’s finally stepped up to become team leader at AlphaTauri in 2023 and his performance gap to Nyck de Vries ended the Dutchman’s F1 career after just 11 races.

Tsunoda highlights Verstappen’s greatest strength

Max Verstappen in action at the Dutch GP | Lars Baron / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

However, Tsunoda also conceded where he can still learn from Verstappen. While backing himself in a straight, clean fight, Tsunoda added Verstappen‘s consistency and adaptability are what sets him apart from the rest of the F1 grid.

In a frighteningly uncompetitive AlphaTauri in 2023, Verstappen‘s picked up points in as many races as Verstappen’s failed to win.

“I think the most impressive thing for me, is about the consistency of how he adapts to each condition,” Tsunoda added. “For example in the Netherlands the conditions changed a lot, half wet, fully wet.

“And he’s always on the limit, I think he’s always able to drive really fast and control the car. I think those things are definitely the difference to me and where I have to work on to reach the Red Bull.”

Adam Dickinson
Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.
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