Bickering at RB: Ricciardo welcomed swap call, Tsunoda disagreed


RB teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Yuki Tsunoda were on opposite sides after Saturday’s Bahrain Grand Prix, with the Japanese driver at odds with a late team order by his team’s pitwall.

In the closing stages of the 57-lap race, Tsunoda, on hard tyres, was chasing Haas’ Kevin Magnussen for 12th place. Meanwhile, teammate Daniel Ricciardo, on softs, was gaining on both drivers.

On lap 50, RB instructed Tsunoda to swap positions with Ricciardo to give the Aussie a shot at Magnussen and beyond, a chance of claiming a top-ten finish.

Tsunoda reluctantly – and belatedly – agreed to the switch, but Ricciardo was ultimately unable to overhaul Magnussen although he crossed the checkered flag 13th, one spot ahead of his teammate.

A visibly frustrated Tsunoda vented his dissatisfaction with the call over the team radio. After the race he was at a loss to understand the order.

“I was just about to overtake Magnussen, I was side by side on the main straight and got a driver swap [for the] last few laps,” he explained.

“To be honest, I didn't understand what the team thought. So, I have to understand what they were thinking, but so far I don't understand.

“We have to review what was their thoughts, to be honest. I don't really understand.”


Ricciardo defended his team’s order, insisting the scenario had been covered in the team’s pre-race strategy brief.

“We talked about it before the race and we go through strategy and we have a few plans of what strategy that we might do,” he explained.

“It was highly likely that we starting on the new soft meant I was going to finish the race on a new soft and have an attacking last stint. The call was quite expected.

“I know when you are in the race and you are a little bit more emotional and it is a bit more intense but this call came as no surprise.

“Obviously every lap counts when you are on this tyre and trying to get this little bit of grip out of it so you need to react to the team call.

“Also, we weren’t in a points position yet so there was really nothing to lose. Just let me go and see if I can do something about it.”

Ricciardo said that he would have been happy to hand back the position to his teammate had he been ordered to do so.

“In the end, whether I am 13th or 14th, I don’t know if any driver cares about that but I don’t,” he added. “So if the team had let him back by before the finish line I would’ve done it because it means nothing to me. Unless we are in the points who cares?

“But it is really just if you are in the points position. If he was letting me by for ninth and he is 10th or whatever then maybe you swap again if I cannot get eighth. But in that situation, it didn’t matter today.

“It is race one of 24 and yes there was a little bit of conflict today but I don’t want that to set the tone. I think we will talk about it now in the briefing honestly. Hopefully, once he has calmed down, he can say, ‘OK, yeah I should’ve moved a lap earlier’.”

In the heat of the moment, Tsunoda was so riled that he overtook Ricciardo on the race’s cool down lap and then ran just inches from the latter’s car in an intimidating maneuver.

“What the fuck?” quipped Ricciardo over the radio. “Oh, save it.”

Asked about his thoughts about his teammate’s attitude, Ricciardo said: “I don’t know. I came on the radio and was trying to stay cool.

“I’m being very sensible right now, but let’s call it immaturity. He’s obviously frustrated with the team orders call.”

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