Heading into this season, the expectation was that a strong campaign for Ricciardo would make him the favorite to replace out-of-contract Sergio Perez alongside Max Verstappen at Red Bull in 2025.

However, the Australian has been outqualified on all three occasions so far in 2024 by R.B. team-mate Tsunoda – who also popped him in the one-lap head-to-head in three of the final five races of last term.

Tsunoda, who impressed in Melbourne by qualifying eighth as Ricciardo mustered only 18th, has, though, rarely been considered a strong contender to replace Perez at Red Bull for next season.

Asked by Motorsport.com whether his competitive start to 2024 could help him actually signal a Red Bull seat or would instead do more to scupper Ricciardo’s chances of promotion, Tsunoda said that he was trying to increase his value to the whole grid ahead of his contract expiring at the end of the year.

“Hopefully they will consider it,” Tsunoda said of his Red Bull prospects. “At the same time, I do want as much as I can to show the performance even to the other teams.

“I just want to increase my value as a driver [and show] that I can fight pretty strong.

“I don’t know what’s going on with Red Bull, but hopefully they will strongly consider [me] as well.”

Yuki Tsunoda, Visa Cash App RB F1 Team

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Tsunoda credited his strong performance so far in Australia to having a consistent car in the VCARB-01 challenger.

He said the key ahead of the GP was to eliminate mistakes, the Japanese racer having apparently lost his cool in the Bahrain opener over a team orders decision before nearly colliding with Ricciardo after the checked flag.

Tsunoda also launched poorly in Saudi Arabia before he was hurt by a five-second penalty for an unsafe release.

“The last two races we were able to [get the] performance [out] of the car,” he said. “Pretty consistent around P10.

“I just keep doing what I’m doing. I think we just have to put it all together in the race.

“We had pretty much frustrating races the last few races. So now, we just have to focus on ourselves in the race, without mistakes.”

Speaking to Austria’s ServusTV, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko heaped praise on Tsunoda’s qualifying effort.

“He finished in the top 10 again – that was an incredible performance – he was always there, without mistakes,” said Marko.

“I hope it will now also result in points because the speed is there. That was also the case in the first two races.

“That would be great, because the top five teams are so strong that you still manage to get in, an incredible achievement.”

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