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Tsunoda ‘happy’ with point on RB’s home soil as team set to review costly race start issues

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IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB prepares to drive on the grid

With two cars starting in the top 10 on home soil, RB went into the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix full of hope for a decent points haul. It wasn’t to be, Yuki Tsunoda delivering just the one point and Daniel Ricciardo fading late on to come home 13th.

The team made things harder than they needed to be from word go, as both Tsunoda and Ricciardo dropped two places at the start of the race. That meant the Japanese racer was bottled up behind Nico Hulkenberg’s Haas early on – forcing the team into a much earlier than planned pit stop.

Tsunoda’s pace on the hard compound was good enough to leapfrog the Haas when Hulkenberg pitted, and that was what ultimately delivered a point to the RB team. But it was a hard-won point, with Tsunoda forced to make his hard tyres last an incredible 50 laps.

READ MORE: Norris says he needed ‘one or two more laps’ after agonisingly missing out on Imola victory to Verstappen

2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix: Verstappen holds the lead ahead of Norris on the race start at Imola

“At the end of the day, I’m happy I scored a point in front of our home crowd and people who came from the factory,” Tsunoda said.

“I think our start slightly compromised our race because we lost a couple of positions to Nico [Hulkenberg]. He was fast on the straights, so we didn’t want to end up behind him which is why we pitted before him and earlier than planned.

“It was the crucial moment of the race, and I think we managed the strategy well and responded correctly to Nico. It meant we had to go long in our second stint and managing the hard tyre for the last 15 laps was challenging, but well done to the team for managing, that’s positive. The start is the main topic that we need to improve on.”

READ MORE: 6 Winners and 5 Losers from Imola – Who excelled as F1 returned to Europe?

Tsunoda has now scored in four of the last five Grands Prix, plus the Sprint in Miami. That rich run of form means he remains P10 in the drivers’ standings, ahead of Lance Stroll. And with his qualifying also going well, Tsunoda a regular in Q3, there is every reason for optimism heading into Monaco.

IMOLA, ITALY - MAY 19: 10th placed Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB celebrates with his

RB celebrated their point on home soil - as it extended their lead over Haas for P6 in the championship

As for Ricciardo, he also struggled off the line – and dropping two positions proved crucial, as he became marred in a DRS queue for much of the race.

Although with some faster cars recovering from poor qualifying sessions such as the Red Bull of Sergio Perez, points were always going to be tricky in a race where there was only one retiree.

“From my side, nothing felt like it went wrong [at the start], you kind of know if you bodge it from the way you drop the clutch, you’ve got a pretty good idea when it’s your fault,” the Australian said afterwards.

READ MORE: Horner praises ‘phenomenal’ turnaround by Red Bull at the end of ‘stressful’ Imola GP

“I didn’t feel like anything went wrong so yeah, let’s wait and see but as a team we have to figure it out. We just lack consistency there and it immediately drops you out of the points."

Ricciardo is still yet to score in a Grand Prix proper, but he does at least have some points on the board from his Miami Sprint result, where he picked up five points. That puts him in P14 in the drivers' championship, narrowly behind the driver that is proving to be RB's main rival this season - Hulkenberg in the Haas.

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