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Tsunoda hopeful RB changes can bring 'winning mindset' as team hold lofty ambitions

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 08: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB poses for a photo with

Yuki Tsunoda has declared himself “excited” by the changes within RB ahead of the 2024 season – while also revealing his lofty hopes that those changes will lead to the team battling with sister squad Red Bull Racing in the coming seasons.

The squad, formerly known as AlphaTauri, have undergone a massive overhaul, with new CEO Peter Bayer joining last year, while former Ferrari Sporting Director Laurent Mekies has come in as Team Principal to replace the retiring Franz Tost.

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But the new additions haven’t stopped there, with Alan Permane – who left Alpine last summer – joining as Racing Director, while Tim Goss joins from the FIA to fill the newly-created role of Chief Technical Officer. There have also been moves to align RB more closely with their sister team Red Bull, with departments at their Bicester headquarters due to move to new facilities in Milton Keynes.

For Tsunoda, who is about to embark on his fourth season in F1 with the outfit, the changes have been resoundingly positive, even without Tost at the helm – an individual who had a huge influence on the Japanese driver’s career in the sport.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 08: (L-R) Laurent Mekies, Team Principal of Visa Cash App RB, Yuki

There has been plenty of change at RB with Laurent Mekies (far left) coming in as Team Principal and Peter Bayer (far right) in as CEO

“Lots of things changed,” said Tsunoda following the launch of RB’s car, the VCARB 01. “First of all, the Team Principal, CEO, the structure itself of the team – pretty much all of it has changed and I think it’s definitely a big project that they’re thinking, and especially with Laurent.

“I like his ferocity, what he wants to achieve in the team and also for the future as well. I’m looking forward to it.

“It won’t be easy, but I’m happy and I’m excited to be in that part of the project and hopefully I can support as much as possible to progress as a team. Definitely, I miss Franz as well but I'm also looking forward to this big project.”

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While the behind-the-scenes overhaul could signal an exciting future for RB, Tsunoda is also hoping they can help make him an even better driver in the short-term.

“I got good training last year – a couple of drivers changed next to myself – so adapting to new environments, it was already good training last year so I don’t have much surprise or confusion yet,” said Tsunoda assessing how he would handle the changes at RB, and referencing the three team mates who drove alongside Tsunoda in 2023.

“But at the same time, the people who are coming into the team have lots of experience – for example Alan [Permane] as well – and I think that kind of new blood will also give me good progress and also good knowledge to become an even better driver.

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Yuki Tsunoda on 2024 goals at RB

“Especially Alan, he won a championship in the past with Renault, and that winning mindset – definitely we need that in our team.

“We’re aiming for not just being top 10, hopefully at some point we can fight against Red Bull. So, I think we’ll be good and we’ll make it work.”

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While targeting a battle with their sister team in the future represents the ambition within RB, regarding where they want to be in 2024, Tsunoda was also relishing the prospect of working more closely with the team who have dominated the past two F1 seasons.

“It will be nice that we will be able to work slightly more together, closer to Red Bull Racing,” said the 23-year-old.

“They achieved a lot of things in the past, and in recent years they’re just dominating, it feels as well. But obviously there are regulations about how much we can work together and obviously it’s the same as others I guess.

“So we’ll see how much we can work closer but at the same time, it’s definitely positive signs that we are able to have a bit of knowledge from the winning car as well.”

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