Tsunoda believes VCARB can ascend to fight Red Bull


While mighty Red Bull Racing reigns supreme in F1, sister outfit VCARB is daring to dream of a future where they challenge for the top spot, an audacious goal expressed by Yuki Tsunoda.

During its final season in its AlphaTauri guise, VCARB's journey in 2023 wasn't a fairytale.

The team started with an underwhelming car, managing only three points in the first half of the season, amidst rumors of an outright sale of the Faenza-based outfit.

The hearsay eventually subsided when plans for a management and technical structure overhaul emerged as well as a closer alliance with Red Bull.

This rapprochement was frowned upon by VCARB’s rivals but the strategic move proved transformative.

The addition of RBR’s rear suspension instantly boosted the team’s performance, propelling it to a respectable eighth place in the Constructors' championship by the end of the season.

Now, with a new name and a renewed spirit, VCARB is setting itself some lofty goals according to Tsunoda, the embodiment of his team’s newfound ambition.

“As a goal we don’t just want to be in the top 10, but we hope that at some point in the future we will also be able to fight against Red Bull,” the Japanese driver told Motorsport.com.

“We weren’t entirely happy with what we were able to achieve in the last two years. Obviously last year we managed to grow in the second half of the season, but in the first part we struggled a lot, we expected better performances.

“Already from 2022 we wanted to make progress, we wanted better results. I think we needed this process.

“If we go back to 2021, we had a very competitive car, especially with Pierre [Gasly] managed to collect excellent results in the race, we need those results at least. And I think that with this collaboration [with Red Bull] we can do it.”

VCARB’s collaboration with Red Bull Racing involves not just using components from the Milton Keynes-based outfit but also a physical relocation to the UK of its aero department.

As mentioned earlier, this has sparked controversy with rivals of both teams grumbling about an unfair advantage.

But Tsunoda isn't fazed. Instead, he sees the closer ties to F1's dominant force as a no-brainer.

“I think it’s good to work closer to Red Bull Racing, which has been able to win a lot in the past,” he said. “In recent years they have dominated.

“But obviously there are regulations regarding how much we can work together, this applies to others too.

“Let’s see how much closer we can work but, at the same time, I think it’s good to gain knowledge from that team, with a winning car.

“We hope that their experience and knowledge will give us a few more tenths to be able to fight with the best eight cars.”

VCARB team boss Laurent Mekies with Daniel Ricciardo, Yuki Tsunoda and VCARB CEO Peter Bayer.

Regarding VCARB’s leadership changes, long-standing team principal Franz Tost has handed the baton to Laurent Mekies, Ferrari's former sporting director, who will work in close collaboration with CEO Peter Bayer.

Joining Mekies is Alan Permane, formerly Alpine's sporting director, who steps into the racing director role. Guillaume Cattelani takes over as deputy technical director, while former FIA technical director Tim Goss is set to join as chief technical officer in October.

These additions have also energized Tsunoda, who sees them as a clear statement of intent.

“For me it is the first experience of such an important change,” he said. “There are many things that are changing, people who have joined the team.

“We will have to adapt to a new environment, but for now there have been no big surprises, but at the same time the people who are arriving in the team have a lot of experience, like Alan Permane.

“These new arrivals will help us progress and will also help me become a better driver. Permane has won titles in the past, he brings a winning mentality, a mentality that the team needs.”

However, a comprehensive overhaul is also often a double-edged sword. While Tsunoda is excited by the team’s wholesale changes and prospects, the 23-year-old insists it may take some time to bed in the new components, a warning previously voiced by Mekies

“Since there have been so many changes, with big names and so many people arriving, there are higher expectations,” Tsunoda admitted.

“At the same time, this time it is more difficult to adapt, to be able to integrate all the people into one team.

“It’s good to have many people in one team, but they also have to be able to be in a certain condition to express themselves at their best and I think this will take time. I don’t expect that from the first race we will have a super season.

“Laurent is trying to be more realistic, they dedicate the first races of the championship to giving people the opportunity to adapt to the team, creating a strong base for the future.

“Then we hope that the car’s performance will be positive.”

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter