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Tsunoda 'proving to the people' with his performances as he reflects on strong start to 2024

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 21: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB arrives on the

Yuki Tsunoda scored his first points of the season in Australia with a mature drive to eighth at the flag – which became seventh thanks to Fernando Alonso’s post-race penalty. That result lifted RB above Haas in the constructors’ standings into sixth, a just reward for a team that have been knocking on the door of points since Bahrain.

The pick of the midfield for many after pre-season testing, in the hands of Tsunoda the VCARB01 has looked especially quick over one lap, with the Japanese racer qualifying in P11, ninth and eighth at the first three races.

EXPLAINED: He made no contact with Russell – so why did Alonso cop a 20-second penalty for his part in the crash?

But after some bad luck and mistimed strategy calls in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, finally Tsunoda was able to deliver points in a faultless performance in Melbourne.

He managed to keep out of trouble, pick his fights and nail his strategy to come home in the ‘best of the rest’ slot, scoring six very valuable points in what is widely expected to be one of the closest fought constructors’ battles in years for those midfield teams.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: 8th placed Yuki Tsunoda of Japan and Visa Cash App RB, 12th placed

Tsunoda's P8 in Australia was upgraded to seventh following Alonso's penalty

“The team did a fantastic job throughout the week, consistent from FP1, top 10 consistently and finally able to score the points. We just needed these points to have a good start to the season,” he said afterwards.

“I would say very, very happy with my performance. I think particularly this week we were very consistent. Also, the qualifying last three races, pretty good as well.

"I needed a bit of a good race, clean race to prove I could also have a good, strong race not just the qualifying and I think this was a good race – this as the race I was able to prove [that] and I just keep to what I’m doing and hopefully also I can score points in Suzuka as well.”

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Tsunoda’s home race is up next, and with Suzuka also boasting some of the high-speed corners that characterise Albert Park, RB will be confident they can replicate this kind of result.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Yuki Tsunoda of Japan driving the (22) Visa Cash App RB VCARB 01

Tsunoda is hoping to tag onto the bag of the fight with Aston Martin and Mercedes going forward

“I’m feeling pretty confident because the car is performing consistently since Bahrain. We were kind of lacking performance lats year, some of the tracks were kind of disasters but so far this season we didn’t have it, we just consistently perform well so I’m sure we’ll perform well in Suzuka and other tracks as well.

“It’s just a matter of focussing on ourselves, in such a tight midfield, anything can happen. Any mistakes will change high positions easily so yeah, just focus on ourselves and just squeeze a few more milliseconds from the car.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s tough on the spirit’ – Hamilton brands 2024 the ‘worst start’ to an F1 season he's ever had

With a potential seat up for grabs at Red Bull next year, not to mention the threat of Liam Lawson who did so well when he stood in for Daniel Ricciardo last year, it is an interesting time to be in the Red Bull stable for Tsunoda.

There are opportunities there for sure – but also pressure.

“As for myself, I just keep proving [with] my performance not just the talking, it’s my style – just showing the result and just proving to the people. I’m happy I’m able to show my performance and people are looking at me more than in the last three years so yeah, this is a good sign.

"Just keep improving what I’m doing and with Daniel [Ricciardo], still just working really, really well and hopefully we can make the car fast and fight against Aston Martin, Mercedes – those cars.”

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