Lando Norris Puts on a Display in Sprint Qualifying

April 19, 2024Ramon Jones
Formula 1

Lando Norris showed the true pace of his McLaren in the Chinese Grand Prix Sprint Qualifying session this afternoon. In recent unfamiliar fashion Norris was able to beat out Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Max Verstappen in the session to claim pole position for the Sprint Race that is set to take place later today.

Norris said, “I was quite happy with how it was in the dry, I think we’ve had good pace all weekend so far. I got a bit nervous. They’re conditions where you’ve just got to risk a lot, you’ve got to push, build tyre temperature and so forth.

I was quick, I just kept catching a Ferrari, so I had to keep backing off. I didn’t do the first two laps well at all, but I got a good final one, a good enough one for pole. I’m happy… sad it’s not for a proper qualifying, but it’s good enough.

Norris Continued On Bouncing Back From Mistakes

“You only have three laps. The first two I aborted on both, so I was like, ‘The last lap is all or nothing’. But it was getting wetter and wetter, so actually the conditions for the final two laps were a lot worse than the second lap.

I was a little bit nervous that I’d made a few mistakes, started to aquaplane quite a bit, but it’s good fun – it gets your heart going. Getting up on top is exactly what we wanted, so a nice surprise and a good position for tomorrow.”

Hamilton Surges Forward

Lewis Hamilton turned heads in China when he finished second fastest on the grid for Sprint qualifying. Mercedes has struggled to find pace in the last few rounds of the Formula 1 season. However, in rainy conditions its anyone’s game and the car speed advantages of the teams currently ahead of Mercedes in Performance start to count for nothing. “It was very tricky conditions out there,” he said. As you could see, there was not a lot of grip out there for anyone. As soon as I saw the rain coming though, I was getting very excited. Our pace in the dry didn’t look quite quick enough to challenge at the very front, so the wet weather gave us more of an opportunity. That’s when it all came alive.

We will have to wait and see what the conditions are tomorrow. We have a lot of fast cars starting behind us, but we will see what we can do to keep them behind us.

Sprint Race Qualifying Results

POSNODRIVERCARQ1Q2Q3LAPS
14Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES1:36.3841:36.0471:57.94013
244Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:37.1811:36.2871:59.20115
314Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:36.8831:36.1191:59.91514
41Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:36.4561:35.6062:00.02812
555Carlos SainzFERRARI1:36.7191:36.0522:00.21415
611Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:36.1101:35.7812:00.37512
716Charles LeclercFERRARI1:36.5371:35.7112:00.56615
881Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES1:36.5421:35.8532:00.99015
977Valtteri BottasKICK SAUBER FERRARI1:37.1121:36.0562:01.04416
1024Zhou GuanyuKICK SAUBER FERRARI1:37.5441:36.3072:03.53716
1163George RussellMERCEDES1:37.3101:36.34510
1220Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:37.0331:36.47310
1327Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI1:36.9241:36.47810
143Daniel RicciardoRB HONDA RBPT1:37.3211:36.5539
1518Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:36.9611:36.6778
1610Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT1:37.6326
1731Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT1:37.7206
1823Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:37.8126
1922Yuki TsunodaRB HONDA RBPT1:37.8926
202Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:37.9236

The time has finally arrived for F1 fans alike to return to the Chinese Grand Prix. After a 5 year hiatus due to safety precautions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic F1 finally returns. The race weekend will follow the sprint race format as follows.

Friday April 19th, 2024

FIA F4 Chinese ChampionshipFirst Practice Session09:25 – 09:50
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Track Tour10:00 – 11:00
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Pit Lane Walk10:00 – 11:00
FIAF1 Car Presentation10:00 – 11:00
FORMULA 1FIRST PRACTICE SESSION11:30 – 12:30
Porsche Carrera Cup AsiaPractice Session13:00 – 13:45
Formula 1Teams’ Press Conference13:30 – 14:30
Formula 1Formula 1 Pirelli Hot Laps13:55 – 14:35
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Pit Lane Walk14:00 – 15:00
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Track Tour14:35 – 15:05
FORMULA 1SPRINT QUALIFYING15:30 – 16:14
FIA F4 Chinese ChampionshipSecond Practice Session17:00 – 17:25
F1 ExperiencesF1 Experiences Track Tour, Trophy Photo & Pit Lane Walk17:45 – 19:45

Saturday April 20th 2024

Formula 1Team Pit Stop Practice08:15 – 08:45
FIA F4 Chinese ChampionshipQualifying Session09:30 – 09:55
FORMULA 1SPRINT (19 Laps or 60 Mins)11:00 – 11:30
Formula 1Press Conference11:30 – 12:00
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Track Tour11:40 – 12:10
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Pit Lane Walk11:40 – 12:40
Formula 1Formula 1 Pirelli Hot Laps12:10 – 12:35
Porsche Carrera Cup AsiaQualifying Session12:50 – 13:20
FIA F4 Chinese ChampionshipFirst Race (30 Mins +1 Lap)13:55 – 14:30
FORMULA 1QUALIFYING15:00 – 16:00
Formula 1Press Conference16:00 – 17:00
Porsche Carrera Cup AsiaFirst Race (13 Laps or 30 Mins)16:55 – 17:30
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Pit Lane Walk17:40 – 18:40
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Track Tour17:40 – 18:40

Sunday April 21st 2024

FIA F4 Chinese ChampionshipSecond Race (30 Mins +1 Lap)10:15 – 10:50
Porsche Carrera Cup AsiaSecond Race (12 Laps or 30 Mins)11:30 – 12:05
Formula 1Formula 1 Pirelli Hot Laps12:20 – 12:50
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Track Tour12:50 – 13:35
Paddock ClubPaddock Club Pit Lane Walk12:55 – 13:55
Formula 1Drivers’ Parade13:00 – 13:30
Promoter ActivityOpening Show13:35 – 13:50
Formula 1National Anthem14:46 – 14:48
FORMULA 1GRAND PRIX (56 LAPS OR 120 MINS)15:00 – 17:00

As Formula 1 returns this weekend with the Chinese Grand Prix Daniel Ricciardo seemingly has one last opportunity to prove he is the man for the job at RB. Formula 1 heads to China for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic. After its 5 year hiatus, its difficult to determine where the teams stand at this circuit. with the changes to the cars since 2019 practice and qualifying session will be of the utmost importance. Qualifying is one area Ricciardo has struggled thus far this season. With his teammate out performing him on every occasion thus far in 2024. Ricciardo needs to find redemption before a decision to axe him is made. His teammate Tsunoda has made stride for the RB side having already scored points this season.

Ricciardo Comments on the Upcoming Weekend

Daniel Ricciardo #3: “Really looking forward to getting back to Shanghai. It’s been five years since we raced there, so selfishly I want to get back on track at a circuit I enjoy, but I’m also sure the Chinese fans can’t wait to see F1 again – Zhou mentioned that it’s sold out so the atmosphere will be great.  Our first Sprint Weekend brings some challenges but also opportunity, I’m just ready to get back in the car!”

Team Racing Director Alan Permane also offered his comments on the upcoming weekend. “Visa Cash App RB are excited for Formula One to return to Shanghai for the first time since 2019 and will be looking to build on our recent good form. This weekend will present a unique challenge, the first time we have visited with this generation of cars but also a Sprint weekend and Yuki’s first time in Shanghai. We will need to hit the ground running in Free Practice 1, with only one hour of running before the Sprint Qualifying session. Both drivers have spent time in our simulator preparing, and are ready for the weekend.”

While no official decision has been made on Ricciardo Red Bull is keeping a watchful eye on the Australian because without points you can’t compete for championships and Ricciardo current has none. Ricciardo stated that he believes he can still win races but his talking needs to translate to the track if he is going to keep his seat.

Action gets start with the first practice session of the weekend in a few hours time.

Aston Martin has made the decision to re-sign Fernando Alonso to a remain with the team until 2026. Its clear Alonso feels he has unfinished business and can still compete at the top level of racing in the world. Alonso had previously found himself without a contract beyond the end of this season. However, time and time again he has shown that he is still a top 5 driver on the grid in his 20th season in Formula 1.

The in house dilemma for Aston Martin is whether Lance Stroll, team owner Lawrence Stroll’s son, should still retain his seat. It’s no surprise that a former champion like Alonso has out performed Lance Stroll. However, in terms of the future of the team Aston Martin needs to start asking whether Lance Stroll is still a positive investment. With Aston martin emerging as a title contender in 2023 and making a run for the same finish in 2024. Question will be raised as to whether Stroll is the right man for the job. Its no secret that he has his current seat because of his fathers purchase of the team. That is not to say that he doesn’t deserve to be in Formula 1.

Stroll has shown moments of brilliance during his tenure in Formula 1. However, Stroll has only secured two podiums in his 8 year tenure in Formula 1. His top finish came last year where he placed 10th. Unfortunately 10th place isn’t enough to content for a world title in the constructors. Lawrence Stroll has made it clear that he has a dream to win championships but he may need to look elsewhere for talent if that is to become a reality. Currently Lance Stroll sits 10th in the championship after four races. It may be time for Aston Martin to reassess their situation.

Does Lance Stroll have what it takes to become a top level driver in Formula 1? Possibly but in his 8th season his progress has not bee than reminiscent of a future champion. If Aston can turn things around maybe the discussion will be different int he second half of the season.

As the rumor mill continues to fly regarding moves in the Red Bull Racing camp its clear that your reigninF1 champion Max Verstappen is unbothered by the whole thing. His focus is and always has been on winning races. Given the recent off track distractions at Red Bull, Verstappen has not allowed it to affect his winning ways. The one race he didn’t win this year was a result of a DNF due to a brake failure. Verstappen stated, “I actually don’t worry about it. Because in the end, whoever is next to me, ultimately, at the end of the year he must finish behind me in the championship anyway.”

Verstappen clearly doesn’t have a preference as to who races beside him. In the past he has hinted at Lando Norris joining the Red Bull side but given that Norris has extended his contract with McLaren. Hamilton was briefly coined as a replacement for Sergio Perez but them Hamilton signed with Ferrari. With that move the next driver who has come up as a prospect is Carlos Sainz but given Sergio Perez’s performance thus far in 2024 and his P2 finish in 2023. It is a hard decision to make to break up the team when you have the two best drivers on the grid.

Carlos Sainz Rumored to be Headed to Mercedes

There are whispers in the F1 paddock regarding Mercedes making a bid for Carlos Sainz. Sainz is seemingly the most sought after driver. One thing is certain, Sainz will have to make a decision on his future quickly. Audi have given him an ultimatum to decide. Time is against him and the season is still young.

Max Verstappen bounced back from his DNF in Australia to secure the win in the Japanese Grand Prix. Verstappen lead another Red Bull 1-2 with Sergio Perez securing P2 and Australia’s winner Carlos Sainz finished third. The Red Bulls still appear to have an advantage having won 3 of the 4 races this year with 1-2 finishes. However the story here is based on Sainz and his second podium in a row after it was announced he would be replaced by Lewis Hamilton at Ferrari next year. In the short term it seems as though the decision to axe Sainz has proven to be a mistake. To add insult to injury, Sainz secured third after passing his teammate Charles Leclerc which will leave Ferrari questioning their decision.

Sainz commented, as quoted by Sky Sports F1, “I had a good race. I’m very happy because it was quite tough out there with the degradation but then the clouds came and the degradation went a lot lower and I thought one-stop was quicker and we were on the two.

I had to overtake a lot of cars out there. Overtaking was tricky, like always at Suzuka, you need to nail the last chicane to get a good run into Turn One. I could finish my moves but it was tough out there.”

Red Bull Racing Has Avoided Destabilization

Despite the off track distractions faced at Red Bull Racing; the team has maintained their level of success from the conclusion of the 2023 Formula One season. Having won 3 of 4 races this far while facing the adversity the team has faced in the media is feat in itself. Red Bull has been the center of an ongoing investigation regarding team principal Christian Horner and another employee. Horner was cleared of any wrong doing. However, the rumor mill has been flying with reports of key personnel leaving the team and a potential move for Verstappen. Verstappen is rumored to have been offered a contract with Mercedes.

Given the current performance of the Red Bull, it is a tough sell for the defending world champion to leave the winning side for a lower performing competitor. Thus far Verstappen has made no indication that he will be leaving Red Bull. The team appears to be working as normal as they maintain their dominance with a 21 point lead over Ferrari in the constructor’s championship.

Ferrari Settle for 3rd and 4th

Carlos Sainz showed he had the lead team pace today in Japan after passing Ferrari teammate Leclerc on lap 46 of the 53 lap race and wouldn’t look back finishing almost 6 seconds behind. Ferrari did what it needed to today and that was defend against the McLarens and Aston Martins which showed early season success. With back to back double point finishes for Ferrari and 3 podiums in the lap 2 races it seems that Ferrari may have turned things around.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – APRIL 07: Carlos Sainz, Scuderia Ferrari, 3rd position, with his trophy and Champagne during the Japanese GP at Suzuka on Sunday April 07, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Andy Hone / Motorsport Images)

Tsunoda Scores Points, Ricciardo Crashes Out

Yuki Tsunoda had a brilliant performance in front of his home crowd. Tsunoda scored 1 point for RB after finishing P10 in the race. His teammate Daniel Ricciardo crashed out of the race on lap 1 of the race after an incident with the Williams car of Alex Albon. Both drivers retired from the race due tot the incident. Unfortunately for Ricciardo he was out of the race before it started.

It was rumored that Ricciardo needs to improve his performance starting in Australia and then Japan if he wants to retain his seat at RB. On both occasions Ricciardo was out qualified and out finished which raises questions as to whether his future at RB is disappearing. Liam Lawson stays poised for an opportunity to get back on the Formula one grid. With Ricciardo’s shortcomings continuing it will be a difficult but necessary decision to remove him if things don’t turn around soon.

Full Formula One Japanese Grand Prix Results

PositionNODriverCarLapsTIME/RETIREDPTS
11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT531:54:23.56626
211Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT53+12.535s18
355Carlos SainzFERRARI53+20.866s15
416Charles LeclercFERRARI53+26.522s12
54Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES53+29.700s10
614Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES53+44.272s8
763George RussellMERCEDES53+45.951s6
881Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES53+47.525s4
944Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES53+48.626s2
1022Yuki TsunodaRB HONDA RBPT52+1 lap1
1127Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI52+1 lap0
1218Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES52+1 lap0
1320Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI52+1 lap0
1477Valtteri BottasKICK SAUBER FERRARI52+1 lap0
1531Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT52+1 lap0
1610Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT52+1 lap0
172Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES52+1 lap0
NC24Zhou GuanyuKICK SAUBER FERRARI12DNF0
NC3Daniel RicciardoRB HONDA RBPT0DNF0
NC23Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES0DNF
Max Verstappen received 1 additional point for securing the fastest lap of the race.

After a disastrous Australian Grand Prix Red Bull Racing has bounced back in Japan at Suzuka this weekend. Max Verstappen lead FP1 FP3 and qualifying topping the tables for most of the weekend. Qualifying occurred in dry conditions despite rain earlier in the weekend during FP2. The Red Bulls never really looked threatened at the front but as you move down the pecking order the mix got more interesting.

Tsunoda Out-Qualifies Ricciardo Again

Yuki Tsunoda outperformed his teammate Daniel Ricciardo yet again knocking Ricciardo out of Q2 by less than a tenth of a second. Tsunoda made it to Q3 in front of his home crowd in Japan but ended up slowest in the final session of qualifying and will start P10 in tomorrows race. Ricciardo still doesn’t have an answer to his teammate’s recent success. He said, “I have mixed emotions today. There’s a bit of frustration but it’s also encouraging to be so close to Q3 after a tricky start to the year. Considering that yesterday I had only a few laps, and they were in damp conditions, today’s qualifying was a good session as we were very close to making it inside the top 10. I drove some laps this morning in FP3 and then worked hard to find those few tenths for quali.

I’m pleased for us to be pretty much there, but it’s not Q3. It’s just frustrating to be knocked out by just half a tenth as it would have been nice to give it to the guys today. After yesterday, we certainly see some positives that are encouraging. For tomorrow, the race pace has been alright, and I’ll start on the clean side of the grid. I really think points are possible, so I’ll aim to be in the top 10 in Lap 1 as well as in Lap 53.”

Tsunoda had a different tone. He commented on Q3, “I felt a little pressure coming into this weekend after our strong performance in Australia,” he said. “But I’d say it’s good pressure and I’m very happy I was able to get into Q3 in front of my family, friends and home crowd.”

Mercedes Misses Out on Top Five Again

The Mercedes side has seen its fair share of struggles in the 2023 and 2022 seasons. Early this season it seemed as though the team figured out their shortcomings. However, after today’s qualifying results Lewis Hamilton will started P7 and George Russell at P9.

SUZUKA, JAPAN – APRIL 06: Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W15 during the Japanese GP at Suzuka on Saturday April 06, 2024 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Andy Hone / LAT Images)

Hamilton commented, Qualifying was generally a really good session. I think we’ve made some good improvements to the car and its balance so far this weekend. I was overall much happier in the car than I have been this year, although there are clear areas of improvement. We have taken steps in the right direction though. When we raced here just six months ago, we were over one second adrift and we’ve closed that gap to the front a little, and to our nearest competitors. Of course I was hoping for more and we are never going to be happy with P7, but we know our car is a work in progress.
 
Tomorrow’s race will be all about tire degradation. Our long run pace looked similar to others on Friday, so we will see if that is the case on Sunday. I think it will be very close tomorrow so I hope we can maximize all the various factors and take home some good points.”

Lando Norris secured P3 with his teammate finishing Q3 P6.

Full Qualifying Results from Suzuka

PositionNODriverCarQ1Q2Q3Laps
11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:28.8661:28.7401:28.19712
211Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:29.3031:28.7521:28.26312
34Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES1:29.5361:28.9401:28.48913
455Carlos SainzFERRARI1:29.5131:29.0991:28.68212
514Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:29.2541:29.0821:28.68612
681Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES1:29.4251:29.1481:28.76012
744Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:29.6611:28.8871:28.76615
816Charles LeclercFERRARI1:29.3381:29.1961:28.78612
963George RussellMERCEDES1:29.7991:29.1401:29.00815
1022Yuki TsunodaRB HONDA RBPT1:29.7751:29.4171:29.41318
113Daniel RicciardoRB HONDA RBPT1:29.7271:29.47212
1227Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI1:29.8211:29.49412
1377Valtteri BottasKICK SAUBER FERRARI1:29.6021:29.59312
1423Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:29.9631:29.7149
1531Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT1:29.8111:29.81612
1618Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:30.0246
1710Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT1:30.1196
1820Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:30.1319
192Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:30.1396
2024Zhou GuanyuKICK SAUBER FERRARI1:30.1436

Carlos Sainz has been the subject of chatter in the transfer market as he is still without a seat for the 2025 season. Sainz’s contract with Ferrari ends at the conclusion of the 2024 season. After coming off of a race win Sainz has shown his doubters that he still has what it takes to win in Formula 1. However, he is still unemployed. One potential move for Sainz would be to join Audi who will be new comers to the current era of Formula 1 and hold uncertainty for the driver.

Audi Joining F1 in 2026

Talks with Audi began last year when it was announced they would be acquiring Sauber at the start of the new technical regulations in 2026. However, Sainz at 32 years of age has much to consider in terms of the future of his career. One one arm he had been offered a seat with Audi that now comes with a two week ultimatum to accept or he can risk the seat and potentially be picked up by one of the other teams on the grid who have vacancies.

The most likely appear to be Red Bull Racing, Mercedes and Aston Martin. Sainz isn’t interested in the money as a motivator per se. He wants to drive a competitive car that can take the fight to the Ferraris and the rest of the “Top 4” who seem to be finally headed in the right direction. With limited time left in his career; his decision has to be strategic. A tenure such as Fernando Alonso’s 20 year run is not typical in F1. Given where Sainz is in his career compared to where Alonso was at this point Sainz needs to make a splash if he wants to stay on the grid.

Now that Sainz is on the clock with Audi a potential move elsewhere will require swift action by the parties interested in him. If such a move is to be made we would expect to hear about it within the week. We will update this story as more develops.

Despite all of the off track drama in the Red Bull camp. Christian Horner’s words, “Its business as usual” seem to be holding true in the Milton Keynes based team. Verstappen and Checo have both shown a determination to remain at the top of the grid in 2024 after finishing 1-2 in the first two races of the season. Both driver had a poor outing for race three in Australia and its clear they are eager to get back on track in Japan this weekend.

Verstappen Commented on His Race In Australia

“I think we saw already some signs on Saturday where things were maybe not looking like they should have done,” the world champion commented. “Of course, now in hindsight you can say it was coming from the brake caliper. But we couldn’t find any, let’s say, fault with the car which, in a way, it’s of course always bad to retire but when you have a fault, it may be the build spec or whatever, then it’s a bit worse. We’ll just move on from there and learn from it, [hope] that it doesn’t happen again but normally it shouldn’t.”

“Every year is different,” said Verstappen. “Last year we had a bit of a difficult weekend in Singapore. I think, if you look at Melbourne performance-wise, we were quick but we didn’t finish the race, so that’s not ideal. But our car normally likes the higher-speed corners, so hopefully we can show that again this weekend.”

Logan Sargeant Bring out Red Flag

After missing out on the Australian Grand Prix due to a logistical mistake made by Williams F1 Team. Sargeant was looking towards Japanese Grand prix weekend as an opportunity to shine. That however didn’t happen right out of the gate in the first session of the weekend. Sargeant crashed on a hot lap in turn 7 impacting the barriers. The damage seems to be limited to the front wing so we will see if the mechanics can get the car turned around for FP2.

Full FP1 Japanese Grand Prix Results

PositionNODriverCarTimeGapLaps
11Max VerstappenRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:30.05618
211Sergio PerezRED BULL RACING HONDA RBPT1:30.237+0.181s18
355Carlos SainzFERRARI1:30.269+0.213s20
463George RussellMERCEDES1:30.530+0.474s18
544Lewis HamiltonMERCEDES1:30.543+0.487s23
616Charles LeclercFERRARI1:30.558+0.502s18
714Fernando AlonsoASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:30.599+0.543s20
881Oscar PiastriMCLAREN MERCEDES1:31.165+1.109s23
922Yuki TsunodaRB HONDA RBPT1:31.230+1.174s20
104Lando NorrisMCLAREN MERCEDES1:31.240+1.184s22
1131Esteban OconALPINE RENAULT1:31.935+1.879s19
1223Alexander AlbonWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:31.943+1.887s18
1327Nico HulkenbergHAAS FERRARI1:31.958+1.902s19
1477Valtteri BottasKICK SAUBER FERRARI1:32.054+1.998s17
1518Lance StrollASTON MARTIN ARAMCO MERCEDES1:32.055+1.999s17
1640Ayumu IwasaRB HONDA RBPT1:32.103+2.047s22
1710Pierre GaslyALPINE RENAULT1:32.277+2.221s23
1824Zhou GuanyuKICK SAUBER FERRARI1:32.638+2.582s18
1920Kevin MagnussenHAAS FERRARI1:32.803+2.747s21
202Logan SargeantWILLIAMS MERCEDES1:33.204+3.148s10

Yuki Tsunoda’s recent performances have the executives at Red Bull confused on how to move forward with the future of their driver lineup. Tsunoda has out performed his teammate Daniel Ricciardo on almost every occasion thus far this season. With rumors of ultimatums surrounding Daniel Ricciardo’s possible removal. Tsunoda has the ultimate opportunity to perform at his home grand prix this weekend in Japan.

Tsunoda Speaks to the Fans During This Weekend’s Preview Festivities

Yuli spoke to press during the pre race weekend press conference, “Hi everybody, it’s Yuki here with the preview for Japan. Very excited, first of all – my home Grand Prix. The track itself is very high-speed and at the same time very risky. Once you step out of the track you end up in the wall, so you know a bit of fear as well, but definitely it’s my favorite track; I never get bored there.

Last year I was able to go through to Q3 so that was very good. I achieved the target but at the same time, I wasn’t able to score points yet the last two years, so hopefully I can achieve that this year. So far, it’s good momentum, I think at the same time, every race we reset and focus, so let’s see how it goes but I’m feeling confident and can’t wait to get on the track in front of Japanese fans!”

Despite not yet scoring points in his home race, Tsunoda hopes to achieve this this weekend. The battle between the two RB drivers should be a good one as it appears both are fighting for their seats as neither is confirmed beyond 2024. The variable of adverse weather could be a factor with rain currently listed at 40% chance this weekend. Tsunoda finished 12th in the 2023 outing and 13th in the rain plagued race in 2022. Can Tsunoda score points this weekend and set the tone in the RB camp that he is the front man?