Perez has a contract with Red Bull for 2024 but amid his protracted run of poor form and the team’s track record for mid-season driver changes, there remains plenty of uncertainty over his F1 future.
This peaked following the Mexican Grand Prix last weekend. Fifth-starting Perez tangled with Charles Leclerc into Turn 1 to trigger his retirement, while Ricciardo excelled by qualifying fourth and finishing seventh.
Tsunoda, meanwhile, has rarely been heavily linked with becoming Verstappen’s team-mate.
Asked by Motorsport.com why he thought this was the case, Tsunoda reckoned the noise around Ricciardo “makes sense” and was down to the eight-time GP winner’s experience and bigger fanbase.
“Daniel has more experience; Daniel has obviously more fans,” said Tsunoda.
“He is [one of the] more trusted drivers. I guess he is [one of the] most valued drivers, so it makes sense.”
Tsunoda added that it was now up to him to prove to Red Bull management why he was deserving of a full-time seat. He continued: “I just have to show my performance consistently to kind of to show them.
Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri
“Everyone can understand that I can be that contender.
“Checo has next year’s contract so nothing we can do, and I don’t think that you can change anything.
“I just have to now keep showing my results. I think that’s it.”
The Brazilian GP this weekend will mark the third event of Ricciardo’s comeback from injury, having broken a metacarpal in his left hand following a free practice crash at Zandvoort.
That weekend marked only his third round back. Ricciardo replaced sacked AlphaTauri racer Nyck de Vries after spending the first half of the season on the sidelines owing to McLaren paying him not to race for the team in 2023, the final year of his contract at Woking.
Tsunoda praised Ricciardo’s comeback but says he has the belief that he can beat his stablemate, despite the Australian having the stronger Red Bull links due to his “energy” and “style” that better suits the team.
He continued: “[Daniel] is doing a good job. I think especially he came back from McLaren and he seems very comfortable with the [current AlphaTauri] car, especially compared to previous teams.
“I think he is Red Bull energy, his Red Bull style suits the team maybe.
“But still, I’m not worried that I won’t beat him. I still have the confidence that I can beat him and am still learning from him.”
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